It’s likely that you’ve heard the old adage “any publicity is good publicity”, which is a pretty stupid policy in and of itself, but it sometimes works.
It works for the Kardashians when they call paparazzi in advance, and it works when free samples are being handed out at supermarkets. That’s light and fluffy PR.
Where the “any publicity” rule doesn’t work is when you’re using the media coverage surrounding a murderer to spruik your app. That’s known as being a bad human.
A press release from gay dating app, Jack’d, immediately struck the wrong chord with Dominic Holden, the national LGBT reporter for BuzzFeed News.
this is the worst parenthetical i’ve ever seen in a press release pitch pic.twitter.com/F6JiqdYkWY
— Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) March 13, 2017
Offering an interview with the CEO of Jack’d, the press release sought to give some background to the app, in case Holden was unclear. Jack’d is “the leading gay dating app for men under 24, – so far so good – “that first gained national media attention as the app allegedly used by the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooter, Omar Mateen”. Oh NO.
There it is. Aligning the notoriety of Omar Mateen, who murdered 49 attendees of Pulse Nightclub in June 2016, with the app that distanced itself from the incident.
In 2016 Jeff Dorta, a spokesman for Jack’d, told the New York Times, “While we are not at liberty to comment on any specifics, I can tell you that as of now, utilising the information Jack’d has been provided, we have not been able to substantiate that Omar Mateen was a Jack’d user”.
The connections made between millennials (or “Generation Z’ers”) and apps have been made a million times before by a million (and more) PR agencies. But this is a special kind of messed up. Homophobic murder – really, any kind of murder – isn’t edgy or appealing to millennials. I’m really struggling to understand the thought processes that went into this press release.
— Joe Cox (@JosephCox) March 13, 2017
Understandably, social media users have been REALLY STRUGGLING to understand the logic (and lack of empathy) behind this misguided PR move.
@dominicholden just… wow
— Alison Bowen (@byalisonbowen) March 13, 2017
— Bad Hombre Sam (@SamIsGonzo1978) March 13, 2017
— Danny Figueroa (@dannyfigueroa) March 13, 2017