I’ve said it a million times, but PR is the management of relationships. PR comes in many forms, including internal communications, external comms, marketing, advertising, and more.
But as another Mother’s Day comes and goes, I can’t help but think that some PR (in the above capacities) could be causing unintended harm to some members of the public.
*This is your warning – this blog post is NOT going to be a happy one. It may contain some triggering ideas, but it will also attempt to address the issues raised*
Here is a list of four different kinds of people that could negatively be affected by Mother’s Day advertising or marketing:
1. Recently Bereaving Children
Grieving is a deeply personal and devastating process for anyone. I couldn’t imagine the pain of losing my mother, and the very idea of it makes my body tense in anguish. So, can you imagine being continually reminded of that loss shortly after the fact? I know I can’t.
For people that have recently lost a mother, Mother’s Day advertising is a constant bombarding reminder of their loss, that can either make the healing process even harder, or regress progress that has been made before.
2. Motherless or Long-Term Bereaving Children
Secondly, while this type of situation is very similar to the first, people that have lost their mother a long time ago, or never knew their mother at all, are simply reminded of this fact. While others get to celebrate their maternal figures, some others are left out of the flowers and festivities.
Again, I can’t imagine the pain that this may cause to some adults and children alike.
3. Would-Be Mothers
On the other end of the scale, Mother’s Day marketing can also affect those that wish to be a mother, but can’t be. There are so many reasons that women can’t become mothers, each one as heart-breaking as the next… but these people are often forgotten about when it comes to Mother’s Day advertising.
Their pain is often overlooked, because it’s not obvious.
4. Bereaving Mothers
And the same goes for mothers that have once had a child and have then suffered a loss. A loss can be at any age, from miscarriage to adult, mothers lose children all too frequently, and sadly, mothers often feel a guilt about this (whether they should or not).
That guilt, and the sheer reminder of losing a child, can be triggered by Mother’s Day marketing too.
But yet there is so little being done about this.
Does this mean that we can’t have Mother’s Day advertising or marketing? Of course not!
It simply means that marketers, advertisers and PR practitioners need to be more mindful of their communications with those who could be negatively affected.
We can’t stop the shops having Mother’s Day displays, and we can’t stop the world from talking about it, but we can monitor how we interact with these facts.
Here are three ways in which we could address this:
1. Tone It Down
The first option is the most obvious, but also the least likely to happen – organisations could tone down the Mother’s Day communications in consideration of those badly affected.
This means that websites could simply have a Mother’s Day section, rather than having the main landing pages covered in Mother’s Day gift options etc. This doesn’t have to be a dramatic change, but it could make all the difference to those who are affected.
Secondly, and likely the most effective option, would be the option for people to opt-out of promotional Mother’s Day email marketing (and anything else they can opt-out of).
This would mean that everything else could run as normal, but people negatively affected by these promotions would only be affected once per company/organisation (which isn’t ideal, but is so much better than the constant bombardment they’re likely receiving right now).
3. Expanding Options
And thirdly, this idea doesn’t take away the reminders of Mother’s Day, but instead hopefully helps improve the day. There are cards available (Cards Of Hope) for mothers that have lost children, aimed at “breaking the silence and moving as a community forward”.
I believe that these cards are also aiming to help bereaved parents come to terms with their loss and look toward the positives of “it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all”.
So, in conclusion, PR needs to be aware of the impacts these days and celebrations can have. Instead of allowing these people to suffer in silence, we should help them in any way that we can. And instead of taking away everyone else’s fun, we should work together to find solutions that benefits everyone.
On a lighter note, to any mothers reading this, I sincerely wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day!
Or to anyone suffering this Mother’s Day, I hope that this blog post sheds light on your situation and we can move forward to make next year less painful.
For a happier read on Mother’s Day, have a look here!