Be Ready for Anything: Even a Good Crisis

This is a guest post I wrote for Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog, April 4, 2012

As the recent Komen and KONY 2012 controversies show, having a crisis plan is essential. But what happens when you have  a great reaction to something good you have done? You need a plan for that too! Kyla Cromer offer some tips on getting ready.   ~ Kivi

When your organization is planning for a PR crisis, (you are, aren’t you?) keep in mind you may need a quick response to a pleasant surprise, too. It may be through “newsjacking,” or you may be approached with an unexpected opportunity.

I want to draw attention to the tech side, which can be forgotten amidst the focus on wordsmithing and media savvy. Here’s a great case study:

In the 2009 wedding video that went viral, Minnesota couple Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz and their wedding party danced down the aisle to Chris Brown’s romantic song “Forever.” The video was posted on YouTube for family and friends. Jill later explained to Scarlet & Black, the newspaper of Grinnell College (her alma mater,) they had chosen the Chris Brown song months before Brown’s violent assault on Rihanna.

When the couple realized the video was getting millions of views – essentially promoting Chris Brown’s music – they approached the Sheila Wellstone Institute (SWI). The SWI is a program of St. Paul-based Wellstone Action that advocates and organizes to end domestic violence. According to the SWI site, at the time Jill was working on a PhD focused on breaking cycles of violence in society, and Kevin was headed to law school due to his passion for social justice.

The story came up at a nonprofit tech meeting I attended a few months later. The SWI tech person described how quickly it all happened, and how fortunate it was they had the ability to both immediately create a special donation page, and handle a large volume of donations. Of course, it wasn’t luck.

A link to the special donation page was posted on a website created by a friend of the couple, and added on the YouTube post. The link was also included in many articles and interviews, and of course, in SWI’s publicity. In less than a month, SWI raised nearly $16,500.00 from 47 states and more than 20 countries.

Some basic things to plan for:

  • Capacity to handle high site traffic , or an ongoing agreement with your vendor for a short notice increase.
  • The ability to quickly create a unique donation page.
  • A means to get the link out to everyone, including the media.
  • A method to track those particular donations.

I checked in with SWI’s Director of Communications & Marketing Sara Beth Mueller recently [2012] and total donations are now close to $40,000.00. As of fall 2016 the video has been viewed over 93 million times.

The SWI was ready, are you?

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s