This morning, the South Dakota Department of Tourism sent out an unfortunate tweet encouraging followers to visit a prominent Sioux Falls tourist attraction — the five-story viewing deck at Falls Park.
But the big news in Sioux Falls this morning was a tragedy at Falls Park, where last night two people went into the Big Sioux River to try to rescue a child and disappeared.
The tweet has since been deleted.
South Dakota Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen called to apologize for the mistake, which he said was due to a pre-scheduled tweet put into the pipeline long ago.
“It was a pre-scheduled tweet that’s been in the queue for several weeks here,” Hagan said. “The timing absolutely was horrible.”
This is far from the first time an organization has gotten in trouble for pre-scheduled marketing messages that suddenly seem tone-deaf in the light of unexpected tragedy. After last year’s Newtown shooting, some groups looked insensitive for pitching their products while the nation was riveted by tragedy; where pre-scheduled tweets dealt with subjects like school, guns, children or mental illness, the situation was much worse.
The ability to pre-schedule tweets can be handy, but as the Tourism Department discovered today, it also has its dangers.