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    Crisis Communication Lessons from Planned Parenthood

    Anatomy of Strong Crisis Communication: What Planned Parenthood Did Right

    • Prepared – It already had a crisis communication plan in place that it could tailor and put into action quickly; it recognized more attacks were coming and prepared its supporters to brace themselves.
    • Decisive – It responded quickly (with the facts in hand) and decisively through written and digital channels (email, video, Twitter).
    • Empathetic – PPFA’s response struck the right tone. It was strong and did not concede wrongdoing but acknowledged that the optics weren’t optimal.
    • Engaging – Planned Parenthood’s supporters are passionate and ready to act – through Twitter, blog posts, emails to Congress, etc. The group used the power of personal stories to connect with people on the issue.
    • Connected – PPFA prioritizes building and maintaining strong ties with allies and decision makers willing to stand in support of the organization

    Planned Parenthood has had a rough few weeks.

    To recap, an anti-choice organization called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), a fake corporate entity, captured undercover videos of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) executives allegedly discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Actors posing as buyers from a fictional medical company met with a PPFA official while hidden cameras rolled. CMP then sliced and diced three hours of footage to create an eight-minute clip that makes it appear as though Planned Parenthood was acting nefariously. CMP’s main purpose is to put Planned Parenthood out of business.

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    DIY PR

    In 2011, The Pew Charitable Trusts were in the last stage of transitioning from a foundation to a public charity. While former grantees were brought in-house, each of the organization’s 40-plus projects had its own in-house communications officer with a network of supporting consultants. When a consulting firm was assess the infrastructure, its recommendations were unequivocal: Get rid of your vendors, they said. Build an in-house team and consolidate communications into one central division.

    Melissa Skolfield, Senior Vice President of Communications, was charged with that task, and as she observes in Making Ideas Move, our series produced in partnership with Stanford Social Innovation Review, “…Building communications into an organization’s strategy from day one is both exhilarating and exhausting work.” Read her piece, DIY PR.

    The below infographic lays out the rules for building your own in-house communications team.

    To learn about more qualities that make an organization excellent at communicating, please visit www.com-matters.org/attributes.


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    Big Data

    Narratives shape how we perceive the world and have a profound impact on organizations seeking to address pressing public issues. But how do you know which narratives define the discourse on a given topic? With people around the globe expressing narratives online in unprecedented volumes, there are new opportunities to better understand and influence opinion — if you know how to filter the signal from the noise.

    Narrative Analytics leverages millions of data points in traditional and social media to decode people’s underlying narratives, map them at scale, and use them to inform strategy. Watch this webinar to learn more about this process and how to draw on the power of “big data” to address the communications challenges your organization faces.

    Participants will learn about:

    • Techniques for quantifying the impact of a narrative
    • Different kinds of data and what they reveal about a narrative’s volume, “stickiness,” or representativeness
    • Evaluating foundation communication efforts through narrative monitoring


    Duration: 66 minutes

    For more information, please visit www.monitor-360.com.


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    This is a preview of ComNet15 Breakout Session Ready Are You? Communications Jedi Training For Your Next Frontier, sponsored by Barr Foundation.

    For The Communications Network’s annual conference, I like proposing breakout sessions that center on questions I don’t know the answers to, questions I suspect many of us share, and for which I’ve also got a hunch the best answers lie on the other side of a group of us hashing it out together.

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    ComNet15 Preview: Let’s Talk About Race

    This is a preview of ComNet15 Breakout Session Let’s Talk About Race: Communicating Effectively for Social Change After Baltimore and Ferguson, sponsored by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Perception Institute 

    For the past century, our understanding about race has been grounded in our troubled racial history and its legacy of enduring inequities. While these inequities are thrown into sharp, public relief by incidents such as the violence in Ferguson and Baltimore and murders in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, it is the dehumanizing, everyday narrative of race that causes them to persist. The very experience of race is deeply connected to our emotions and innate fears, and causes ambivalence about what strategies and policies we should support that will lead to racial justice. For many, merely talking about or even noticing race makes people anxious.

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