There’s an old saying in PR that any publicity is good publicity. And while that may technically be true, it doesn’t mean that drumming it up is always the right thing to do. Take for example TacticalGear.com, a website that sells tactical gear to law enforcement, military and civilian shooters. They apparently provided some equipment to the Aurora shooter. But the speed with which this information came to light has some people wondering . . .

SoldierSystems.net sums up the facts:

Early Friday morning a monster gunned down innocent moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado. You might ask what that has to do with Chesterfield, Missouri and normally so would we. But, Chesterfield, Missouri based TacticalGear.com thrust themselves into the middle of this act.

You see, the perpetrator of this heinous crime is said to have purchased a Blackhawk! vest, 2 pouches and a knife from them in early July, according to their records. In fact, that info is ALL over the news. It seems a bit off to make such a big deal over that. A vest, knife, and two pouches? This isn’t like it’s the weapon.

Already, it was starting to look like someone going beyond being a cooperative citizen to looking for some publicity.

The implication is that TacticalGear.com volunteered that information to various news sources which then spread like wildfire.

This wouldn’t be the first time a company has seen their sales skyrocket following a nationally publicized event — Skittles are still seeing record sales following the Trayvon Martin shooting. But the way in which TacticalGear.com seems to be going about this would appear to raise some questions about their ethics. We called their COO, Andrew Hoefener for comment, but were unable to reach him.

It’s one thing to express regret that your products were used by a monster – even if tangentially – in the process of slaughtering innocent people. Some companies would even donate the proceeds of the sale to…I don’t know…the Red Cross or some other worthy charity. But spreading the word that a mass murderer got his gear from you in order to generate pub and cash in on follow-up sales would be more than a tad ghoulish. If that’s what they did.

9 Responses to PR Gone Awry: TacticalGear.com Trying to Use Shootings to Boost Sales?

  1. do you want to look like a lunatic mass killer. let us handle your clothing needs.” somehow i don’t think that would be a wise pr campaign.

  2. I am not sure how the information got out, but it would appear that it would have come out anyway. similar to the gun range owner who volunteered his information. It would be nice to have them make contribution to the families or help in some relief effort for the victims and their families.

  3. Chad Weinman seems to have acquitted himself well in the header that their site has posted as I write this. The company is open to all comers. A company that sells clothing and accessories can’t possibly know whether one customer or another is a murderous, psychopathic nut job. And exactly what difference does it make anyway? Would it make us all fell better if the Aurora shooter was wearing Birkenstocks, Levi’s and Aeropostal that he got on eBay or Amazon? Arrrgh!

  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if they merely wanted to get it out of the way before some investigative reporter took a camera crew outside their headquarters for an ambush interview. I think it’s just a case of trying to get ahead of the story, which seems like a reasonable thing to do. They know this tragedy is likely to get people thinking about legislation that would be bad for them, and their industry, and they also surely don’t want to be boycotted or have a bad reputation, and I don’t think that being secretive really would have forestalled the knowledge getting out there.

    Additionally, who really is the source of the information? This is merely speculating that the It could easily have been leaked from various law enforcement sources.

    The CEO of TacticalGear.com certainly had an interview but that was purely damage control. Also, in the linked article, a person appearing to represent the company writes this:

    “However, you have to understand that we have been flooded with emails and voicemails from angry people accusing us of selling the 6,000 rounds of ammunition and firearms to the Colorado shooter. […] In some cases these hostiles have brought the ladies in our customer relations department to tears.”

    If anything I would like to show them my support for trying to be reasonable. Like the flight instructors who helped teach the 9/11 highjackers how to fly planes, they are victims too.

  5. Maybe I was late in learning about it, but I heard about where he got his tactical gear at about the same time I learned about where the individual guns came from, and that info came from the FBI. I wouldn’t rush to judgment on these people, but then not rushing to judgment is where I usually stand.

  6. I think the main point here that they sold him a “tactical vest” not an “armor vest”

    I’m still looking for confirmation that the shooter was actually wearing body armor rather than a case of the media once again confusing “tactical” with bulletproof.

  7. They aren’t the only ones. ITS Tactical wrote a piece on this incident and towards the end they made points stating that if everyone had their trauma kits that the outcome and loss of life would have been much less. I don’t think many people either saw this, or had the nuts to point that out. Sucks that they would use scare tactics to push product. They are an otherwise pretty reliable and reputable source for quality information.

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