The bombing in Boston yesterday was terrible and even down here in tiny Barbados, thousands of miles away, our hearts go out to those people who were injured and/or lost loved ones.
As I was reading the coverage, I came across an account by a photographer called John Tlumacki who covered the marathon and ended up at ground zero when the attack occurred. He is quoted to have said “My instinct was…no matter what it is, you’re a photographer first…”. And he ran towards the incident taking pictures of the carnage. he went on to say “But then a cop came to me, grabbed me, and said: “Do me a favor. Do not exploit the situation.” And that resonated with me. I can’t think about it — I gotta keep doing what I’m doing.”
That made me think, where do we draw the line between exploitation and capitalising on a good opportunity? He didn’t have to take those photos but by not doing so, he would have missed out on a possible pay-cheque and even a Pulitzer prize! (The 2013 Pulitzers were awarded for pictures taken of the conflict and tragedy in Syria.) Employees face this question when others are fired from a position they want, should they jump on the opportunity or wait a “respectable” amount of time first? Salesmen especially face it when a tragedy opens up an opportunity to sell their product (how many people want to buy life insurance and write a will now?).
At this time, businesses are acutely aware of the thin line between exploitation and capitalising. Should they send out condolences to the deceased, would they be looked at as exploiting the opportunity or simply being sincere? I think it depends on how the message is laid out. A heartfelt well wish with a nice quote and an accompanying logo lets employees and customers know you care. However an accompanying ad about your current special offer and sale, tends to be a turn-off. What about the your company’s existing ads that are running? Ask that they’re put on pages with just text so that your images aren’t juxtaposed with the carnage. (Who wants to see juicy chicken next to bleeding limbs? Besides Hannibal lol.) Or use your judgement and ask to be placed in a different section of the paper. E.g. Say you’re selling knives… need I continue?
The line is blurred and ensuring you’re on the right side is a tough call. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with capitalising on the opportunity as long as you do so without hurting anyone.
Let me know your take on exploitation vs. capitalising in the comments and stay tuned for Thursday’s post!
(Did you spot the irony lol)