When Tragedy Strikes, Poor Communication Is Unacceptable

I live in an apartment complex in North Carolina. Something horrible happened a couple of days ago where I live. I knew nothing about it.

I found a piece of paper clipped to the outside of my door. The communication from the management office was very poor, indeed. Thinking of the importance of clear communication in a crisis, here is an example of what not to do – EVER. Please note I have copied the document word for word. Typos and inaccuracies were not changed.

Client Incident Notification Letter

Please allow this letter to provide brief information concerning a tragic accident that occurred at approximately 9:00PM on 8/2/2010.

While we do welcome any inquiry regarding this event; the only information we have available is that the incident was ruled an accident The identities of those involved will not be revealed, so that community peace can be maintained, and the families involved can have time to grieve in the manner they choose.

As always, we do appreciate our clients and we share your concern when tragedies like this occur.

Thank you for your attention to this correspondence and ask that you do not participate in any rumors as they only do damage to the property and to those and to those that are personally affected.

For any of you who would like to make a contribution to the family, you may do so at the office. Also, if you need to talk with someone or need help explaining it to your children I have information on a Dr. XXXXX you may talk too.

XXXX, Community Manager
QUESTION: Do you know what happened from the letter you just read? Any clue? I sure didn’t know from this communication. But I did run into a neighbor who had seen the news the day before.

Tragically, just two days ago, a 12-year-old boy was shot and killed in the complex where I live. The young boy was visiting one of his friend’s homes and his friend apparently brought out a gun, the gun went off and the 12 year old boy died. I have a 12 year-old. I am so blessed that my own son was not involved. I am so thankful I didn’t have to find a letter like this on my door regarding my own son.

No matter what type of business, there is ALWAYS a need for a crisis communication plan. And there is always reason to ask the parents of your child’s friend if they have a gun in the home.

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