Archive for ‘All Posts’

May 13, 2015

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?

June 25, 2012

It’s ALL Customer Service: Blaming the Victim

I figure when something catches my eye for the 50th time and I’ve never seen it written about, I should get on it.  So, here’s one:

In the restroom at our clinic – which includes a hospital wing – there’s a prominent sign with a photo of hands in soapy water that says,“It’s OK to ask.  Proper hand hygiene: it’s everyone’s responsibility.”  Emphasis theirs.

As Seth Meyers might say on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, “Really, [our clinic who shall remain nameless]?  Really, if my doctor doesn’t wash her hands, it’s my fault?”

When I see EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS in a restaurant restroom, it bothers me to think they have so little trust in their employees that a sign is needed, but the pay is generally low, and at least they don’t suggest customers police them.  I guess if you get food poisoning, cross your fingers you’ll be taken to a hospital where the doctors wash their hands….

March 30, 2012

It’s ALL Customer Service: Living Vicariously

Picture this: you’re at the store picking up a few things, and at the returns desk nearby you hear a customer being shut down before she can finish explaining her situation. It’s not you, but it could be you, and it affects your feelings about the place. Call it vicarious customer service.

The flip side: yesterday at Target the cashier next to mine noticed her customer buying just one item, a cup of yogurt, and volunteered that there are spoons over at the snack bar. A pleasant surprise to that customer, and to me. Clearly the cashier was on the lookout all the time for an opportunity to add a little something extra, a sort of informational lagniappe.

In a nonprofit there are many opportunities to show volunteers, donors, and participants recognition. Seeing it on a website, in a newsletter, or at an event says these people are valued, and by extension, so are you.

The wonderful Wayside House, Inc. in the Twin Cities provides supportive housing and many other services for women recovering from addiction and mental illness. Their newsletters highlight donors and volunteers, and also women from the programs. This isn’t unique, but I believe that type of recognition may be the little something extra some recovering women need, and it’s more than inspiration. They get the message their success is and will be noticed, and that it matters in the larger community.

Suppose someone comments on this post, “This is the dumbest post I have ever read.” I can thank him for his input and perhaps clarify something, or I can say something about his mother. Maybe I even know his mother, but you wouldn’t know that, and you’d draw a conclusion about me. Or perhaps about my mother.

So here’s a new rule: Do unto others as you may one day do unto other others. Because it’s all customer service.

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