Monday, July 23, 2012
Warner Brothers acted swiftly and well in response to the Aurora Colorado massacre during the premier of The Dark Knight Rises. It canceled grand openings in Europe. It refused to report official figures for the first weekend. There is no way to blame the company for the action of one mad person, and there is almost no way the horror could have been prevented. This is a crisis without precedent. Of all the crisis communications scenarios one might write, the idea that someone would enter a theater and gun down patrons would not be the first or even 50th possibility. It is a lesson to communicators to remain flexible and proactive. The first tweets, news stories and phone calls out of Aurora must have been greeted with near panic among the executives of Warner Brothers. To remain calm in a situation like this is more than most humans can bear. Their reaction was fast to their credit. Now they have to figure out what to do next. That may be harder.