At some point, nearly every PR professional faces the daunting task of writing an obituary for an organization’s executive. Joan Capelin wrote a wryly entitled article, “Last Writes,” for the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) monthly publication Tactics to address this sensitive subject.
“An obituary is more than just an announcement,” Joan writes; it is also a way to “remember the life and communicate the deep sense of loss for both those who hardly knew the deceased to those who knew him or her intimately.” The writer must consider the remaining family members, professional legacies, philanthropic connections, and – a critical focus – the viability of the organization left behind.
Joan offers many obituary-writing suggestions, including how to quickly research the salient information and why to alert key members of the media as soon as you can. “This will avoid the publication of incorrect accounts, particularly since, once posted on the Internet, errors proliferate,” she explains.