Funerals, social media and Telstra – A Retrospective


Well, it’s now the Monday after I cast my plea for help to the social media winds. You can read all about it in the previous post, and I’m going to writing here with the assumption that you know what I asked for, and how people responded. What I want to cover here is a look back at what I consider the key points.

Firstly, thank you Telstra. A lot of people I’ve spoken to since the blog post went up and the storm of crazy happened haven’t realized that they responded in almost under an hour. The hardware was mailed that afternoon, arrived the next day and worked perfectly. They even included a reply paid envelope for ease of return. There were a number of people at Telstra who helped, not simply limited to Kristen Boschma and the @Telstra team, but to all of you: thank you.

However, there were some further developments: firstly the funeral was pushed forward from Saturday and is actually going ahead today; secondly, during this whole process we were obviously also talking to the hospital and in the end they came through, putting together a team, ambulance, donating oxygen and equipment needed for Doug to actually attend the funeral.

While this does negate the need for the tech, obviously I’m just happy for the best case scenario to be achieved. Regardless of if the NextG cards from Telstra are used, they still demonstrate a fantastic gesture. The goal was to get Doug as involved in the funeral as possible, so I think this is definitely a win.

Some other important notes:

Telstra wasn’t of course the first person to say that they could help, nor were they even the first to get me on the phone. That award goes to Maralyn Kastel from The Detail Devils. Maralyn immediately contacted some of her clients in Orange and started trying to help co-ordinate if any of them could help out with equipement and support. Thank you Maralyn, you’re good people :)

While some of you may have seen this story get a write up on Mumbrella and on Trib’s blog, it also permeated the mainstream press. This resulted in two interesting outcomes. One, a paper that wanted photos and approached the situation with the sensitivity of  a brick to the head. The other is a bit stranger: reportedly the ABC contacted the hospital directly to offer to help with the hook up, having “seen something on Twitter.” This is coming to me second hand, and to be honest the hospital staff were, naturally, just thoroughly confused. Certainly nobody from the ABC contacted me, but

This brings me to my next point, how to handle this: I think Telstra, and specifically their social media crew, have demonstrated an extremely high level of competence for how to handle delicate situations like this. The paper mentioned above? Terrible. They swanned in, clearly ignored the reality of the story, and topped it all off by wanting to invade the privacy of the family during a horrible time for nothing but personal gain. Had the story been, like the Mumbrella article, about the response, fine, happy to talk – but as I actually mentioned in the first post, I’m not offering sponsorship or media rights to a funeral. The ABC I can’t really comment on other than to say: next time, contact the person, in this case me, who you heard from first, don’t complicate the issue.

Some people have also raised the question of whether this would be as successful if I didn’t have a large number of people following me on Twitter. It’s the same question that was raised after @OtherAndrew’s story earlier this year regarding gaining a flight to New Zealand after missing his plane due to surgery. While I am stoked about the response, and don’t think it reflects on Telstra’s or anyone else participation, the possibility of a two tier system based on how loud your voice is, bothers me. That is a whole blog post in itself though, and I’ll be putting up my thoughts on this in the next week.

Once again, thank you to everyone who helped by blogging, tweeting, commenting and sharing the word. You guys were great, and it’s certainly been a wild ride. Feel free to leave a comment or your thoughts on how this all happened below. Did I do the right thing? Did Telstra? What are the ramifications of stories like this?

6 Comments so far

  1. JonoH on February 21st, 2010

    Im very happy to read that Doug was able to attend in person, its a very important moment for him and the wider family. A good outcome during a very sad time.

  2. Kristen Boschma on February 21st, 2010

    Warlach all I can say is that you did the right thing if your intentions were heartfelt and genuine. I can also tell you that the Telstra team responded from the same space. Personally, it’s a credo I try to live by.

    The intellectual debate about whether or not social media creates a voiceless dystopia for some can wait for another day. You did a good thing for someone in your circle and that’s enough for today I reckon.

  3. Fred of Sydney on February 21st, 2010

    I concur with Kristen, well said on every count. You did something kind and generous and used the methods you know in trying to achieve a worthwhile goal. To quote Kristen “You did a good thing for someone in your circle and that’s enough for today I reckon.”
    Especially as doing something nice for someone else, without the expectation of reciprocity is VERY rare these days..

  4. Angela on February 22nd, 2010

    Have been reading this story with great interest…. what an amazing chain of events. I present the ABC Morning Show based in Orange, wondering if you’d like to tell this story on radio tomorrow morning? If so, send me an email. Would love to hear from you.

    Hope the funeral went well yesterday.


  5. Jeffrey on March 2nd, 2010

    Hello there,

    I have read your article here and the previous one, and it really interest me. I’m a college student and also reporter for my techno college magazine, wondering if I can do some interview with you for this great experience that you have? If so, you can send me an email. thanks.

  6. […] an amazing response from Telstra, and others, for a call to action through social media, […]

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