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How to Get Your Community Involved in a Crisis (in a Good Way!)

CommunityEarlier this year, a dear friend of mine who is a public servant and truly one of the most gifted people I know, found an unkind comment about her on her organization’s Facebook page. It was the kind of comment that those in her community who know how hard she works behind the scenes, could immediately dismiss.

But it can be hard to do that when it’s about us, can’t it?

This friend took a screenshot of the comment and sent on our friend group’s text chain. We immediately felt indignant for her. It’s human nature to internalize the one negative comment out of a whole sea of comments that tell us we are doing our job well. It can be hard to let a comment like that go, and really hard not to respond.

What do I do? our friend asked on our group text.

My response: nothing.

Here’s why.

If you and your organization have been transparent in your workings, and communicative online, building both a group of online supporters and those who support your organization in more tangible ways, then these supporters will likely come to your aid in this type of crisis.

As the minutes and hours passed from the posting of this negative comment, every time we refreshed her organization’s Facebook page, there were new comments popping up by her supporters. Those people effectively squashed and discredited the claims of this Negative Nancy, which is exactly what I thought would happen.

If you do it right, your in-person and online communities will come to your defense. How do you do it right? Here are some tips:

Be open and honest in your communications (email newsletters, mailed letters and print pieces, social media, etc.). Share your successes but also your challenges and how you’re working to overcome them.
Post to social media on a consistent schedule so your supporters there begin to trust your online persona, and you’re regularly showing up in their news feeds.
If your organization makes a mistake that’s one the public should know about, own up to it. Do you need to craft a statement? Does it need its own social media post? Do your donors and supporters need to know the news first?

It can be hard to hear or read comments from those who don’t agree with your organization’s practices, but there will probably be more people who do affirm your work.

Wait. Pause. Take a breath.

See if your community will come to your defense. My guess is that they will.  

Have you had an experience like this? Tell me about it.

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