Influencers should never memorialize nor profit from tragedies

Every September 11th, I will hear a new story from a survivor that makes tears instantly fall from my face. Also, I expect a brand to make an inappropriate post. Now, this year it wasn’t a mattress store offering a twin mattress sale. It was two lifestyle bloggers, Dani Austin and Collins Tuohy-Smith.

IMG_4117.jpegAustin is the founder of The Sassy Club and was in New York for Fashion Week. Collins Tuohy-Smith’s family was portrayed in the 2009 film, The Blindside, and owns the up and coming cookie franchise, Whimsy. On September 12, I pitched an op-ed piece to several publications and I have not heard back. In this case, I feel as though urgency is needed due to the fact no one is talking about this. This topic about influencers needs discussion.

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Each blogger had a similar pose wearing a cute outfit in front of the skyline that is absent of the One World Trade Center. Tuohy-Smith was on a rooftop looking down in pose commonly used by influencers. While Dani was posing by a viewer on top of the Empire State Building. The photos were tasteless and poor judgment for memorializing those who lost their lives.

Their prompts mentioned: do you remember 9/11?,  it’s so sad we went through this, and I love NYC. Every American has the right to post about how this day should never be forgotten. That includes everyone in rural America who have never seen the New York Skyline. However, the influencers’ prompt seemed insincere when matched up with the photo.

Brands from mattresses, pregnancy tests, and boutiques will pay bloggers to promote items on their social media feed. Austin has partnered with Southwest Airlines and made a post within the past week about flying with them to New York. Initially, I didn’t think she had partnered with a brand, but instead, she had another trick up her sleeve.

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While leaving the Americana Awards, I thought I had found a hat. I’ve been on the search for a budget-friendly hat that looks like buffalo roamed on my family’s farm. @southernglamourblog wore a hat, which I thought would be linked in the app, LikeToKnow.it. I had to explain to my friend how the app worked and why I was mad when I saw this. Sadly, I was not as disappointed that I could not find the hat because my hard work of that op-ed changed. Instead, Dani Austin’s 9/11 post showed up where she could monetize through her blog. Initially, I took that screenshot to show a mentor in public relations.

Here’s how LikeToKnow.it by RewardStyle works, you download the app, which notices the screenshot of a photo that an affiliated blogger posts on Instagram. That photo will have similar items or the exact item in that photo to help the consumer. Plus, the influencers can make money when items get purchased through the links directed to the app.

In 2013, Spaghetti O’s came under fire for having a social media post that memorialized Pearl Harbor with the logo holding an American flag. It was inappropriate for another day that was meant to be reverent. If I made a post of me on December 8 holding a Mai Tai on a Hawaiian beach with a prompt that said “Today’s why World War Two began,” that would be just as bad as the bloggers’ 9/11 post.

I’m still moved by my visit to Pearl Harbor so I do not appreciate Spaghetti O’s post. In 2009, I visited Ground Zero and just like Pearl Harbor, you cannot help but think of the hell that happened at those locations. My Facebook page was flooded with pictures of my friends at the 9/11 memorial. Once again, they have the right to say how they feel. However, none of them had a pose where they looked down all cutesy.

My hope is that LikeToKnow.it has the guts to take down the links to the photo and create a new policy for posts relating to a tragedy. Macy’s clearly does not have a 9/11 sale. Many Americans are still going through they own PSTD from 9/11 and no one should be making a dime off selling clothes on anything related to this date.

Now I know I have a small percentage of the followers that these bloggers have. I have blogged as a writer since 2010 before you had to learn how to take a cute photo, own a Gucci belt, and have brands back you. I don’t care about my following, because I love writing. I am prepared to be attacked by the influencer community where I will be viewed as not hip, mean, critical, rough, being upset by anything, or taking things seriously.

The best lesson that I learned is social media was from my former boss, Tim Nicholson. With his strategy, we were not going to post stuff in reference to memorial holidays unless we had a story that reflected on it. His thoughts were that we often were just saying “Never Forget” like everyone else then it did nothing to our mission.

This September 11th, I was working as a freelance runner for ESPN for the USA vs. Mexico soccer game. The make-up artist was from the New York area. After asking her what events she normally worked on, she insisted that I watch the ESPN special on 9/11 that she worked on the set. Then I told her that I saw the story of Welles Crowther, a former lacrosse player and firefighter turned equity trader, that saved many lives that day. Yet, his courage and bravery cost him his own life. She stated how she watched the towers fall from her suburban home. Then I was in awe when she said, “I could name 14 more people I knew personally that perished that day.”

I know I’m just a girl who grew up in rural Missouri, who lives in Nashville, but these stories still need to be repeated. However, let’s reserve social media to hear the stories similar to Welles Crowther and Lt. Heather Penney, who was essentially given orders for a suicide mission to bring down United Flight 93. I’m grateful Lt. Penney did not have to sacrifice her life that day. As Americans, we need to help each other out if it is through criticizing this poor choice by a person and a brand or by saying a simple thank you.

You do not have to be sponsored by Uber or any brand to thank your servicemen. A lot of people in the service from Clarksville, TN come to Nashville to drive for Uber. I immediately tell them “thank you for your service” because I don’t know if they were given orders to the extent of Lt. Penney.

On 9/11, it should not be associated with sales, the blogger pose where you peer down, and clothes. We can express our love for our country and the sadness of 9/11, but let’s be cautious when we post. If you are visiting a memorial in your state or in a different country, please do not pose at that place. While I will admit, Whimsy makes good cookies and these girls have good clothes, but the posts should have never been made. I do not want the day my nation was attacked to be glammed up with an advertisement.

 

 

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