Kyla Cromer

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

Guest Post by Kyla Cromer

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 word-smithing and media savvy. Here’s a great case study:

In the 2009 wedding video that went viral, Minnesota couple Jill Peterson, 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 just under $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, and total donations are now close to $40,000.00. The video has now been viewed over 75 million times.

The SWI was ready, are you?

Kyla Cromer is a web writer and editor with experience in social media, site administration, and consulting for nonprofits.  She also provides tech support house calls for little old ladies in her neighborhood.  Check out her blog at or follow her on Twitter @kylacromer.

Published On: April 4, 2012|Categories: Communications Channel Management, PR and Media Relations, Social Media|