Boston, the U.S. managing marathon bombing crisis perfectly


People went to a hockey game last night and a song broke out.

In Boston last night the Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres played a hockey game and instead of a fight breaking out, a song did — the Star Spangled Banner.

The 17,500 NHL fans sang so fervently that Rene Rancourt stopped singing and happily conducted instead. From “proudly we hailed…” the crowd took over.

At Major League Baseball stadiums over the last two days, fans sang “Sweet Caroline,” the anthem of Fenway and the beloved Boston Red Sox [as well as at Boston College and other sports events.]

The point here is that thousands of sports fans, all of them just like the ones at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday, congregated peacefully and let their emotions take flight in song.

Crisis managers have no way to counsel a city or a nation or a people. But none of those groups in America this week needed management.

Handling a crisis successfully is a lot about perception. How do people respond — internally and externally — to a sudden crisis? What do they say and do? Is there strong or weak leadership? Does it feel like healing occurs and progress is made? How is their response perceived?

All over the United States this week, good people stood up to the so far nameless terrorists who set bombs to kill and maim innocent children, women and men. There will be recriminations about security and intelligence breakdowns, but Americans have no patience for that right now.

Now is the time to stand up in crisis and show the world that the American spirit only gets stronger at times like this; now is the time when political leaders get out of the way and defer to the people and national anthem singers defer to the crowd; now is the time for the words “first responders” to be applauded louder than a starting player’s name — most often by those athletes leading the cheers.

Timothy McVeigh failed. Osama bin Laden failed. The London and Madrid train bombers failed. These bombers will fail.

There’s no better way to manage a crisis than for everyone to sing loudly off the same sheet of music. It’s magical.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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One Response to Boston, the U.S. managing marathon bombing crisis perfectly

  1. Phil Graves says:

    Nicely written 🙂

    From: Steve on Crisis <comment-reply@wordpress.com> Reply-To: Steve on Crisis <comment+rhqifuv7n8gv0p46vg4-s5c@comment.wordpress.com> Date: Thursday, April 18, 2013 12:14 PM To: Phil Graves <pgraves@mower.com> Subject: [New post] Boston, the U.S. managing marathon bombing crisis perfectly

    steveoncrisis posted: “In Boston last night they played a hockey game and instead of a fight breaking out, a song did — the Star Spangled Banner. The 17,500 NHL fans sang it so fervently that the designated singer, Rene Rancourt, stopped singing and happily conducted instea”

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