On September 12, 2001, I faced one of the greatest challenges of my professional career. I had to polish a series of humorous radio commercials—less than 24 hours after watching the twin towers collapse from my office in midtown Manhattan.
Thousands of people died. News stations were delivering a nonstop orgy of explosions and fear. And there I was, crafting a woman’s complaint about the romantic failings of her technology infrastructure.
Not only did it seem unimportant. It was unimportant.
If you’re a writer today whose assignment is anything but the Ukraine, you may be feeling the way I felt that morning.
How do you get through situations like this? With empathy. That is, whatever you feel for the victims of the tragedy, you extend the empathy to your audience.
They’re getting same horrific alerts, hearing the same sad news and watching the same shocking videos that you are. In a world where the competition for eyeballs can sensationalize a mosquito, coverage of real news and tragedy is over the top.
You can give your audience relief from the relentless pounding of bad news.
In horrific times, even the most experienced chef may crave a new recipe. The simplest clothes shopper might try on a new style. And even the most jaded CIO could be ready for a chuckle.
That S— on your desk could be somebody’s gold.
Forty years in a business that kicks most writers out in five and ages the rest out in ten. Can't say I ever mastered agency politics, but I did learn a few things about writing.