Warner Bros. to contribute to Aurora relief fund; PR pros say studio handling crisis with care and compassion

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Published July 24, 2012

| FoxNews.com

The theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado sent shock waves through the country. Its occurrence at a screening of "Batman: Dark Knight Rises," one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, and the subsequent revelations of the alleged shooter's links to the iconic Batman character The Joker, provided the movie's studio with an unprecedented public relations crisis.

So far, experts say Warner Bros. has been handling the challenge with care and compassion.

On Tuesday it was reported that Warner Bros. is donating money to the Aurora Relief Fund, giving a very substantial, yet undisclosed donation, to the victims and their families. PR pros said Warner's heavy involvement in the healing process in the tragedy's aftermath is warranted.

Jonathan Bernstein, President of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc, told FOX411 he thinks its "appropriate for Warner Brothers and, perhaps, some of the stars of 'Dark Knight Rising,' to contribute to the Aurora Relief Fund that can be used to provide any aid required by victims and their loved ones.”

Daniel Keeney, President of DPK Public Relations and PR crisis expert, agrees.

“There realistically is no way in the foreseeable future to extricate the Batman brand from this horrific tragedy," he said. "So instead of hoping to get beyond this, the studio needs to accept that this event is a part of this movie from this point forward. A simple way to acknowledge this and recognize as well as honor the victims is to add a slide to the beginning of the movie along with a moment of silence prior to the start of the film.”

The studio's involvement in the relief efforts followed a string of statements of remorse from the studio, as well as the film's producers, director, and principal actors.

“The movie theater is my home. The idea that someone could violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearable savage way is devastating to me," director Christopher Nolan said.

“My heart aches and breaks for the lives taken and altered by this unfathomably senseless act," co-star Anne Hathaway added. "I am at a loss for words how to express my sorrow.  My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

"Words cannot express the horror that I feel," said "Dark Night" star Christian Bale. "I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them."

Keeney says Warner Bros. needs to continue to look ahead. “They will need to be reflective on lingering sensitivities about violence in their movies and they may want to consider delaying the release dates of certain films that include violence out of deference for the victims of the Colorado," he said.

“The best media strategy for Hollywood firms is to make compassion the primary component of their response, as Warner Bros. have been," Bernstein explains. "This movie house has acted far more compassionately than many corporations do during crises.”

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