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PR issue. Very sad situation, need advice urgently!

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Advice needed ASAP.
Over the weekend in the town where my store is located a 14 year old boy was killed in a car accident. The driver and another passenger were also 14. My heart aches for these kids families, so very sad.
The driver has the same last name as we do and his first name is very similar to my 19 year old sons. My store is closed on Sundays & Mondays and I live 15 miles away and do not get cell service at my home. When I was driving into work early this morning I received 9 text messages from acquaintances and relatives asking if my son was okay, they heard that he was in an accident and was the driver that killed this young man. On my phone at my store there were 4 missed calls from these childrens school, no messages.
I am so sad for these kids and their families. My cousin called this morning and told me that many people at the local hospital where she works are saying that the boy driving was the owner of my stores son. She is correcting them, but how many people think this and not getting the truth. It is my understanding that although this was a stupid accident, people in this town are almost witch hunting the 14 year old driver.
It is not my intention at all to sound or be insensitive to the families, so please do not think this is what I am doing. I am concerned that although we have no association to these kids, the belief that the driver is my son will harm my business. I want to release a statement but I am unsure what I should say. Please help. And honestly know that I am so sorry this has happened and I would never do anything to upset anyone involved. I feel terrible for thinking that this will negatively affect my business, it feels almost insensitive, but the reality of doing business in a somewhat small town and the rumors that are already flying, it worries me.
Any help will be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 31
How about something like, "Our hearts go out to the family of ______. Particularly since the name is so similar to my own son, their heartache is deeply felt by our family."
post #3 of 31
You could also add- "I remember when my son was 14 and to have his whole life affected by such a traumatic incident would have been devastating."
post #4 of 31
After the tragic event which occured on (date), (business name) would like to offer our sincerest condolences to (this family) and (that family).

Add some words for fluff.
I think the situation is too delicate to say something like...this wasn't our son...in any way, you know? But the fact that your offering condolences to both families shows neither of them are yours.
post #5 of 31
I was thinking the same thing. Making a statement saying "All of us at Cakes r us, would like to send our condolences to both the families involved in the tragic accident on March __, 2011".

Be very careful not to state that it isn't your son involved but also be careful to not word it as though you are sending an apology on behalf of your son.
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Have a smashing day!!
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post #6 of 31
Due to the mixup, it may be newsworthy. Contact your local paper and see if they can help clear it up. But a sign on your door and email to your clients may help. Don't worry about how you feel. We "mama bears" are supposed to protect our children.
post #7 of 31
You should not feel bad at all for wanting to clear this up! It involves your child and your business so you have to think of them. I agree with scp1127, call your local newspaper but, I would also post a sign as others have said and send out emails. I would get the word out as much as possible to protect your son and business.
post #8 of 31
I think you should mention that it wasn't your son...email your customers and post a letter in your store. It will help clear things up.
Perhaps say something like:

'Even though the tragedy that occurred on (date) had nothing to do with our family, it is heartening to know that we have so many friends and loved ones who--understandably mistaken--poured out their love and concern for us.

We feel the utmost sympathy for the families involved in this horrible accident and hope that our community will rally around those who do indeed need our support.'

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If I am ever on life support, unplug me...

Then plug me back in.  See if that works!

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post #9 of 31
This is your child and your business, and even though the situation is a sad one, you have to make sure your son is not mistakenly involved in this. If I were in your shoes, I would try to clear it up, not so much for my business but for my child. I agree with the three previous posts, and I think carmijok has worded it nicely.
post #10 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

Due to the mixup, it may be newsworthy. Contact your local paper and see if they can help clear it up. But a sign on your door and email to your clients may help. Don't worry about how you feel. We "mama bears" are supposed to protect our children.



I agree with this idea. It's what I would do.
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I am no longer active on CC.  They will not let me delete my account.
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post #11 of 31
I am so sorry to hear your community is enduring such a loss. I am a juvenile probation officer in a small town and we had a similar incident about two years ago and there was definitely a witch hunt to blame the young driver. He was eventually charged in juvenile court and placed on probation but the community response to him was heartwrenching. The two passengers in his car were his best friends and were killed, the driver was speeding although not recklessly it did not matter and in the court of opinion he was crucified. I would encourage you to post on your business web site, email and store front a note of condolence to the families involved and I think the wording that this tragedy has brought forth such support for your family due to the mistaken belief he was involved for which you are very grateful. Encourage those that are contacting you to offer their support to share that same generosity with the families of the children who were involved and that they remain in your thoughts.
post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

I think you should mention that it wasn't your son...email your customers and post a letter in your store. It will help clear things up.
Perhaps say something like:

'Even though the tragedy that occurred on (date) had nothing to do with our family, it is heartening to know that we have so many friends and loved ones who--understandably mistaken--poured out their love and concern for us.

We feel the utmost sympathy for the families involved in this horrible accident and hope that our community will rally around those who do indeed need our support.'



I think this is PERFECT! If you felt inclined to, you could do a day or a specific item where 10% of the proceeds go to a benefit for the families for burial or medical expenses of the surviving.
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Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
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post #13 of 31
Carmijok, your letter is lovely and I think is sensitive to all.
post #14 of 31
The idea of fund raising for the family is a great one.
Contact the local news with the idea of correcting the misunderstanding and at the same time getting out the word that you'd like raise money in the name of the child. If done delicately it can help to the family and clear up the name confusion at the same time.

mommachris

wife to David for 25 years
mom to 13 blessings
Nine who are still living at home that range from 22 to 4 years old.
Holly, Amy, Aaron, Evelyn, Zebedee, Melody, William, Melissa and little Tobin
and four more sweet babies in heaven.

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wife to David for 25 years
mom to 13 blessings
Nine who are still living at home that range from 22 to 4 years old.
Holly, Amy, Aaron, Evelyn, Zebedee, Melody, William, Melissa and little Tobin
and four more sweet babies in heaven.

Reply
post #15 of 31
I am a teacher and have had to deal with several horrific incidents of losing lives too young.

I would suggest something like the following to clear up any confusion.

"As a member of the community, we are shocked and saddened by the recent tragedy. We have been extremely touched by the outpouring of support due to the names being similar. We will soon be announcing a fundraiser to help the _______ family with expenses.."

A cake/ memory walk at the local high school could be a fundraiser and a chance for healing.
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