In 2013, a news story popped up in our Facebook feed about a nonprofit organization in Raleigh, NC (Betsy’s hometown), called Love Wins Ministries, that had been asked not to feed the needy in a public square downtown. Feeding the hungry and helping them in other ways are the core missions of the organization, and Love Wins’ attempt to feed people last weekend wasn’t the first time they’d done it in that location, but it was apparently the first time they’d been not welcome. We kept a watch on the story and saw it the story circulated from folks in the Research Triangle area and became a national story. Plenty of people online were talking about it by either taking Love Wins’ side or the City of Raleigh’s side.
We were reminded about the importance of having a level-headed person at each organization in charge of crisis communications, and the good reasons for having the shells of a few key statements prepped and ready for additional information to be added just in case something unexpected happens and people outside the organization get wind of it.
The story unfolded over the weekend, but by Monday the director of communications had crafted a FAQ section on their website outlining what had happened Saturday morning, their belief that nonviolence is the best way to evoke change and appealing to supporters to write, call and email city officials. It was organized and told those who were so inclined to get involved exactly, in very specific terms, how to help, right down to listing the contact information for each city council member and the mayor.
It reminded us of a talk we listened to at the GCN Summit a few months before. Sarah Robinson of Fierce Loyalty spoke about how to build brand advocates. Her tips on fighting a common enemy (homelessness, city officials), creating something together (change and acceptance) and standing for something bold (taking a risk to see that people who need it are fed) relate directly to what Love Wins is using their online platforms to do.
There are right ways to go about managing crisis communications (LiveStrong) and wrong ways (Applebee’s). We commend Love Wins for a timely, fact-based response that has won them a lot of advocates, surely increasing the size of their community.
(The latest information about Love Wins is here.)