Hunting, like public relations, is all about timing. So it’s utterly inconceivable that the NRA has decided that now, as the country is still bereaved, shocked and confused about a spate of unfathomable mass shootings from Colorado to Connecticut, is a good time to release its Target Practice app, which is tailored for gun enthusiasts ages four and up.
Yes, four and up.
The politics of the gun debate aside, we’re perplexed by this app release. The NRA has the resources to employ the best in the PR business, yet this decision is a good example of everything a brand shouldn’t do when navigating a deeply emotional moment for the public (and attempting to emerge with its reputation intact).
The release is poorly timed, insensitive and completely tone deaf to the ways millions of people in America and beyond feel about guns–especially guns and children. We’ve all become far too familiar with the violence, the wasteful loss of innocent life, and the image of individuals with assault rifles marching down the halls of an elementary school.
So what, possibly, could have led the NRA to make such an inexplicable decision? We can only guess that a discussion regarding the timing of this app release occurred in some conference room in some office building in some alternate reality. Perhaps the individuals in this meeting raised these very relevant PR questions:
- If not now, when? The NRA knows that its detractors will never consent to a “good” time for the release of Target Practice app, so why not just move forward now? A delay wouldn’t change much, if anything.
- Who is our audience? This is one of the fundamental questions in the PR business. The audience for most NRA campaigns consists of staunch NRA members whose loyalty is unwavering. The app was designed for this audience, so why worry about what others think?
- The app is harmless, so why should we play into the media hype? The iOS app features an indoor or outdoor shooting range and even a skeet option, which not only doesn’t promote violence on any level but also teaches gun safety tips.
These are all valid points, but the NRA has failed to take control of the narrative on this story–and we seriously doubt that it will win the organization any new fans.
We’ll never know what happened in that conference room. But we can think of one question that everyone present forgot to ask: Is this really worth it?