Archive for ‘Communications’

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?

March 9, 2012

It’s ALL Customer Service: Welcome, guest. May we help you find a SKU?

There’s been a spotlight on the dangers of pompous, impersonal, and jargon-filled business writing recently (including here on this blog) and I’ll admit it can be difficult to rein in. However, those writing for a consumer audience have no excuse. They shop, eat, and listen to the radio, too, right?

Most stores don’t have customers anymore, because “care team members” serve their “guests.” Apparently, this is cozier. For some reason, use of jargon has gone the other way.

Retailers now casually refer to SKU’s, and you may have a choice between a “blister pack” and “hanging assorted” at the store. We get cash from ATM’s when we don’t have time to visit retail banking for a debit transaction.

When preparing a frozen dinner, instructions often say, “Remove product from its overwrap,” and “Be careful, contents will be extremely hot.”  Mmm, yummy.

But here’s what inspired me to write this post: I was online looking for a restaurant location, and their website had a nice interactive map. The instructions? “Click on your market.” I knew we had something special.

December 12, 2011

Inspiration and the Power of Instant Feedback

I know a young writer who feels so good when he’s inspired, he can hardly write at all when he’s not. Most of us don’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration for much of anything, but sometimes it does come.

One source of inspiration for my blog was the invitation from Talance to write a guest post. It was a good opportunity to hit the ground running, or at least jogging a little bit, plus I’m a sucker for flattery. Which recently landed me in a community theater production of Fiddler on the Roof as the Grandma Tzeitl, but that’s another story.

In an article in Productive! Magazine The Power of Less author Leo Babauta likens blogging, posting art online, and releasing beta software to street performance. Here’s what struck me most:

If a street performer isn’t good, people won’t watch. But making a small change in the performance, like a better setup or better patter, can make huge changes in audience reaction and payment. And here’s the thing: they see the effects of those small changes immediately. There’s no wondering, “Will this work? Will it be an improvement or make things worse?” Because they know if it works, if it makes things better or worse, right away….

Whatever you want to do, if you can do something publicly, even in front of a small group, and get instant feedback, that’s pure gold. There’s no better way to improve. There’s no better way to evolve a method or creative process or business model than through this simple technique of constant iteration and natural selection….

There’s no better way to get amazing at something.

Granted, he didn’t say how long it takes to get amazing at something, but I guess that’s the fun part.

Can you add more instant feedback to what you do?

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