Early on Sunday morning, June 12, I woke to the news that 20 people had been killed in a shooting at a downtown Orlando nightclub four miles from my house. “Wow,” I thought, “that’s going to be a huge news story.” I had no idea.
At a press conference two hours later, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer delivered the news that not 20, but 50 people were confirmed dead and 53 were injured. The worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The collective gasp from reporters was audible.
Like most PR professionals, I’m a news junkie. When tragic events occur, I consume news coverage the way others binge-watch Orange Is the New Black. The 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Boston Marathon bombing. Sandy Hook. Now, Orlando. It’s cliché, but I never thought it would happen in my own backyard – a city synonymous with the happiest place on earth.
Watching the news unfold nonstop for more than a week took on greater significance knowing many of my PR friends and colleagues were in the midst of the most demanding, once-in-a-lifetime experiences of their careers. I was at once pained by what they were having to handle and proud of how well they were rising to the challenge.