Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, published a post on its official blog Tuesday with advice for businesses and mental health organisations who might want to use actor Robin Williams’ suicide to generate publicity.
The post, which was entitled “Carpe Diem,” was written by Edelman executive vice president Lisa Kovitz. “Carpe Diem,” which is Latin for “Seize The Day” and was part of a memorable quote from Williams’ character in the movie “Dead Poets Society.” While Kovitz claimed Williams’ death created a ” carpe diem moment” for organisations and businesses, she also acknowledged the need to avoid seeming “exploitive of a terrible situation.”
“There’s a very careful line they need to walk so as to not seem exploitive of a terrible situation but at the same time, it is a national teachable moment that shouldn’t be ignored,” Kovitz wrote, adding, “(We too are balancing that line with this post.)”
Kovitz urged mental health organisations and businesses to take a “visible and aggressive approach” and create content for their websites and social media pages tied to Williams’ death.
“Some mental health organisations still have nothing on their websites or Twitter feeds regarding the situation and the need to seek out help. Perhaps they were trying to be non-exploitive or stay business as usual. While that approach may be the best for them, this event calls that strategy in to question,” Kovitz wrote. “Since the issue of depression is clearly a continuing conversation, we would certainly want these organisations to consider another approach that is more visible and aggressive.”
Kovitz also offered specific strategies for organisations to promote their experts and generate coverage including promoting their experts to TV bookers and seeing if they had a local connection to the story.
In an email to Business Insider on Wednesday, Kovitz said Edelman believed “that this terrible event created the moment to have a real, serious and useful conversation about mental health.”
“This actually did begin as an internal memo — we do this quite regularly on all kinds of topics related to media relations on a wide variety of topics. We believed it was worth surfacing more broadly given how the news cycle was progressing,” said Kovitz.
She also said she is aware companies need to be “careful” and “respectful” in how they choose to capitalise on a situation like Williams’ death.
“We were extremely careful to say that this is also a time when you need to be particularly careful on how you offer experts, research and information to be respectful but the fact is those stories are going to happen,” Kovitz said. “Many people are simply not prepared to act at the speed of news and it is important to have a plan in place so that you can be useful, as needed and as appropriate.”
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