Beth Kanter

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    ComNet15 Recap: Communication Apocalypse

    This presentation was given by Spitfire Strategies’s Beth Kanter at ComNet15, The Communications Network’s 2015 annual conference. The presentation was part of the pre-conference workshop, Communications Apocalypse — How Will You Respond When Zombies Attack?

    When disaster strikes, do you know how to react? Hiding under the covers won’t make it go away.  Whether the opposition is relentlessly attacking you, your executive director is arrested for embezzlement or a grantee is under fire for unethical behavior, having an adaptable crisis communication plan can help you respond to both anticipated and unexpected crises, prevent your organization from serious reputation damage and minimize political repercussions.

    What You’ll Learn: 

    All organizations need to know how to identify issues that can become a crisis and have the tools on hand to minimize these vulnerabilities. During this session, Beth Kanter of Spitfire shared lessons learned from the recent Planned Parenthood controversy and help participants refine their own crisis communications plan. Beth also discussed:

    1. The basic elements and questions to consider when developing a crisis communication plan;
    2. How to map out the crisis response protocol and outline what steps to take when crisis hits; and
    3. How to gear your messages to your most important audience rather than engaging in a heated debate with the opposition

    Follow Spitfire on Twitter at @SpitfireSays.

  • Anatomy of Strong Crisis Communications: What Planned Parenthood Did Right


    In the wake of backlash against an undercover video shot by the anti-choice, fake corporate entity Center for Medical Progress, Planned Parenthood put into action a textbook crisis communications plan. Planned Parenthood was prepared, decisive, empathetic, engaging, and connected. The below infographic shares the key pillars to the organization’s successful strategy.

    Read Beth Kanter’s guest post here for more information on Planned Parenthood’s exemplary response.

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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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    Designing Transformative Communications Capacity Building Programs for Nonprofits

    Guest Post: Beth Kanter

    Our interactive session at the Fall 2013 Communications Network Conference in New Orleans was a blend of content delivery and peer learning – a conversation about the value, different approaches and models, and best practices.  Betsey Russell captured the highlights of the content in this blog post, “Boosting Nonprofit Communication Capacity.”   A copy of our presentation and some of the takeaways follow.

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  • Mind Map

    Curation – Everybody’s Doing It. Are You?

    I’ve noticed lately there’s a new word out there – or rather an old word in a new context.  “Curation” – an act I think of as being done in museums – is showing up more and more often in the communications field.  I find it everywhere:  while catching up with a colleague who tells me she’s been “curating the program for a conference”; in an article in Buzzfeed that tells me that @brainpicker, a favorite Twitter feed that I follow, is the work of an “online curator” named Maria Popova; in a Mashable review of Tumblr, a popular blogging platform and social networking site, that explains how Tumblr has started doing its own “curating.”

    What “curate” seems to mean right now is find a lot of beautiful and interesting things, put them together in one place and then share your collection with others, usually via social media. And all of a sudden it’s what all the cool kids are doing – the hot new way to both experience and share things found on the internet.

    Which leads me to the obvious question: As a communications professional should I be curating?

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