Heaven’s band just got freakier and a whole lot more royal with last week’s passing of musical genius Prince. Prince Rogers Nelson was widely-regarded as an influencer, a risk-taker, and innovator by those in the know. 2016, while only in its fourth month has proven to be an usually cruel and devastating year for musicians, their families and fans. We have lost Glenn Frey, David Bowie, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor), Merle Haggard, Paul Kantner, Joey Feek, Vanity, Maurice White, Dale “Buffin” Griffin, Pete Huttlinger. These unfortunate deaths have come from a wide-array of musical genres.

As homage’s have continued to pour-in,  I started to think how companies and public relations professionals can best use social media to pay tribute to musicians, celebrities, tragedies and causes close and far away. What are the best ways to pay tribute without appearing to pile on for the sake of gaining eyeballs? Once the news hit last week that Prince had left us to join his new band, many Minnesota-based companies excelled at paying tribute and unfortunately, several stepped on social media landmines. Here’s our list of things you should consider:

  1. Make it from the heart and keep it real
  2. Don’t force it
  3. Is it appropriate for our brand to post a reaction
  4. Does your company have a relationship with the person or the event

Here are a few links to several stories covering Prince’s death.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune authored this story on the local marketing community’s social media responses: http://www.startribune.com/social-media-responses-to-prince-s-death-spark-debate-in-local-marketing-community/376789961/

Ad Age compiled this story on Minnesota area company’s that made corporate social media posts: http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/brand-s-tweet-prince-including-cheerios-pulled/303685/

Here’s how San Diego’s independent radio station 91X handled Prince’s death: http://www.91x.com/tommy/forever-is-a-mighty-long-time/