Are you ready for crisis comms?

Would you know how to handle a crisis comms situation? A crisis can hit whatever the size or cause of your organisation. Many charities have never done any thinking or planning around crisis comms which can leave them vulnerable when one happens.

Official sign on a fence says "KEEP CLEAR. Access required 24 hours a day"

A crisis can take many forms. For example, it could be something that has happened internally (whether it is your fault or not) or a storm about something you do or are associated with (again whether true or not). Or it can be external, for example, a hot topic in your area of work which you are involved with, or something effecting your geographical community, such as a fire or flood. If handled right and in certain circumstances, you can come out the other side with new supporters or a stronger community.

A crisis can also be positive. For example, an unexpected growth, someone with a very high profile championing you, or some unplanned media profile.

Crisis comms planning

Whatever the situation, it pays to have done some thinking about the different situations which could affect you. How you respond in each situation may be different depending on how it could impact your reputation, your beneficiaries, your supporters, your employees, your partners etc. The scale of the crisis or how likely it is to escalate will also be a factor.

Can you list some possible situations which you would consider a crisis? Have any of these happened? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time and how have you documented this? What constitutes a crisis and what is business as usual?

If you are at the start of a crisis, would you know what to do? It can feel a bit ‘rabbit in headlights’ if you haven’t been in a situation like this before. It is good to plan for some of the logistics. For example:

  • Who should be on your crisis comms team? Do they have defined roles? Is there someone in charge?
  • Where should you meet?
  • What tools do you need? Such as laptops, phones, a big wall and post-its?
  • What channels would you use or avoid? (see using social media for crisis comms)
  • How can you work best as a team to keep other informed about what is happening?
  • What if it happens out of office hours? Do you have each other’s contact details or passwords? Would you respond from home or all go to the office? Do you have keys? Can you access the website or other channels remotely?

Building your crisis comms skills

Nothing beats actually being in a crisis to develop your skills. In my career I have lived through a few and can remember them very clearly. You learn a lot by being tested in this way. And if there is a next time, instinctive skills kick in.

Can you run a crisis simulation in your team? Can they write a press release under pressure and know how to get it signed off quickly? Do they know when they should involve the CEO or trustees? Have they got a collective tone of voice to be able to collectively respond to social media comments? Do they agree about when or how to respond to a fictional but possible situation? Can they make decisions quickly?

There are companies who run simulation sessions for organisations. I sat-in on one with Helpful Digital over the summer. They have their own secure platform where dummy tweets, emails, Facebook posts and a website can fully replicate the experience of being in the thick of a crisis comms situation. Brilliant to be able to experience a crisis without it being a real crisis!

Learn from others

Another useful way to build crisis comms skills is to look at how other organisations respond. Watch what they do. Would this approach work for you? For example, a few years ago Dogs Trust said that they felt more able to respond strongly to a negative press story after seeing how RNLI had responded to an earlier one.

Have sessions in your team meetings discussing other organisation’s approaches. Don’t just look at your peers. Think KFC running out of chicken.

There are lots of great case studies to read. Start with Brathay Trust – a lesson in crisis comms and Dan Slee’s recent investigation into the crisis comms around the Whaley Bridge dam incident.

[Take a look at RNLI’s current response to negative press stories about them using 2% of their income to fund overseas projects to prevent drowning. The story broke on Sunday resulting in negative comments and people saying they were cancelling donations. By the end of Monday there were over 4000 replies to RNLI’s initial tweet. #RNLI_disgrace has been trending all day mostly now with messages of support and new donations. A few charities have also tweeted their support including Save the Children, Friends of the Earth and the Institute of Fundraising all with a strong number of likes.

RNLI’s approach has been to proudly defend their work putting their values and mission at the centre of their comms. They have responded to hundreds of people with a personal message, not just a cut and paste of a statement. It feels authentic. They even changed their homepage to show a powerful image of one of the projects in action.]

Look after each other

Being in the middle of a crisis situation is stressful and tiring. It can also be very draining to be dealing with an unpleasant situation, a barrage of unpleasant comments or challenging internal pressures.

Think about how you’ll look after each other during and after the event. There may not be time for lunch or to work on everyday projects. Everyone may need some time out and treats to keep them going.

Charity Comms’ new guide to wellbeing has useful tips about building resilience and spotting the signs of fatigue.

Your tips

What have you done to learn about crisis comms? What advice would you pass on? Are there examples of bad crisis comms we can learn from too? Please share in the comments.


Can I help you?

Please get in touch if I can help you with content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

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Legacy fundraising on social media – Remember a Charity Week

It is rare to see organic legacy giving asks on social media. With limited time to grab attention and a sensitive ask to make, it can be hard to get right.

Remember a Charity Week is an annual event with a wide reach. Having a national campaign with a media presence makes it easier for charities to talk about their own legacy fundraising.

Logo for Remember a Charity Week 2019. 'Pass on something wonderful'. 9-15 Sept

Examples of legacy fundraising on social media

Here are some examples of legacy campaigns on Twitter shared in the week before Remember a Charity week. Each feels authentic. The ask is clear and appropriate. All use video as the primary tool, using very different styles, and images. Most have used #RememberACharity to position the ask.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust shared a 30 second video using striking drone footage of Cumbria with text explaining all the things Elizabeth had done to support their work. The last line says ‘On Friday it was four years since Elizabeth passed away.’ A second tweet links to their information pack which includes beautiful postcards.

Combat Stress’ video is a personal message from Jonathan, Recovery Support Worker. He speaks from a desk explaining why legacies are important. (There are no subtitles.) This second tweet a few days later sharing stats (1 in 5 veterans that we support are helped by our supporters leaving gifts in their wills) got slightly better interaction.

Maggie’s Centres shared a 40 second video featuring Rita saying that leaving a legacy was a no-brainer for her. The end shot says ‘Please consider a gift to Maggie’s in your Will to make sure we can support more people with cancer in the future’. It has had 123 views and a few likes / RTs. The tweet links to a web page sharing more of Rita’s story.

Here’s a few more examples from small charities gathered in a Twitter thread on the first day of RAC week.

Have you seen any other good examples of legacy fundraising on social media?

Getting the most out of the week

Don’t miss the chance to join in if your organisation does legacy fundraising. If you haven’t got a campaign planned, do you have artwork or a video or a graphic or text which you could use?

Are your web pages ready and maximised to inspire your supporters to act? Include a link to them to give people more information. See 10 tips for great online legacy fundraising.

Legacy giving isn’t just for big charities. Use the opportunity to get involved if you are a small charity and encourage your supporters to think about leaving you a gift in their Will. I have a few tips in this round-up from Small Charity Week.

Don’t forget to include #RememberACharity or #RememberACharityWeek in your messages.

Here’s the promo for Remember a Charity Week. It features Len Goodman and some rather funky wallpaper as part of the 70’s themed fun. Keep your eye out for their messages to share.

Further reading

Digital round-up – June and July 2019

Highlights this month: tools and resources to accelerate digital progress, responses to the Oxfam report, diversity, spontaneous comms.

For one month only, here is a combined round-up with some of the things you might have missed in June and July. Wishing you a productive or restful month whether you are in or out of the office.

sticks of brightly coloured rock in a seaside shop

How to use the round-up: Pick and choose links to read now or later. Even better, subscribe and get future round-ups direct to your inbox so you don’t miss any.

Content highlights

National Trust tweet - says 'Have you scanned your member card for free parking?'

Twitter takeover of the month: VIP (very important pony) Dennis held the reins of Mencap’s Twitter for a short time during Volunteers Week.

Video of the month: The Bank of England revealed the new face of the £50 note in this video. Genius or awful? You decide…..

Comms: best practice

screenshot from video - shows Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke posing in awful stock photos from the workplace

If you are a Charity Comms member, don’t forget to vote in the trustee election. Closes at 5pm, 19 August.

Digital: strategy, design, culture

Logo from The Catalyst

The Catalyst, a UK collaborative to bring a social purpose to the digital revolution, launched. They are a coalition of major foundations, digital design agencies, civil society bodies and the UK government, seeking to massively accelerate the use of digital in the UK’s voluntary and charity sector. Sign up via the website for information and updates. Read this post by Dan Sutch to find out more – digital, design and data for social good. And follow The Catalyst on Medium too.

More transformation resources:

Logo for the Charity Digital Skills Report 2019

Did you see the results from this year’s Charity Digital Skills Report, now in its third year? More than half (53%) of charities are aware of emerging tech developments but aren’t planning for them yet. Just 12% are planning for how this could change their charity. How does your organisation compare with the results?

See also:

Fundraising

A tank made out of a cake. #BakeForHeroes

People / careers / sector

Oxfam:

The Charity Commission’s report about Oxfam came out at the beginning of June.

Diversity in the sector:

Karl Wilding was appointed as NCVO’s new CEO. While welcomed, the news prompted heated discussions about diversity. Here’s a small selection.

Other reads

And finally….

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links in the comments.

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

——

Did you miss May’s round-up?Catch up with more good reads!

Do you live-tweet?

Some tips about how to get the most out of live-tweeting from a conference or event.

This week it is the epic Institute of Fundraising annual conference. Three days, 100+ speakers, a festival of fundraising best practice, shared learnings and inspiration.

This year the #IoFFC programme is huge with ten different streams (such as digital and philanthropy) and sessions graded by level (intermediate or advanced). If you are there, it must be impossible to choose which sessions to go to. If you are not there it is pretty hard to follow the busy hashtag as there are sometimes nine sessions going on at once and hundreds of tweets coming out each day.

Screenshot of tweets using #IoFFC. There are 743 new tweets sent since the conference started.

Thank goodness for the handful of live-tweeters, working hard to share key points and their top takeaways in a way that is easy to follow (examples at the end).

How to get the most out of live-tweeting

If you are at a conference or event and planning to live-tweet, here are some tips about how to do it.

  • Sit at the front. You’ll take better photos of slides which will be easier to read.
  • Use threads. This makes it easier for everyone to follow the whole session you are at. Whether you are live-tweeting every important point or just one or two key takeaways, do it in a thread.
  • If you are at an event with more than one session, start a new thread for each session.
  • On the first tweet, include the name of the session and who is presenting, including their @names if they have one. Include a screenshot of the title slide or something else to make the tweet stand out.
  • Don’t worry if you miss an important point. You don’t have to cover everything. It can be quite stressful to try and keep up.
  • Include the event hashtag in each tweet.
  • If you are including images, especially of slides, use alt text to describe what the image is showing. If this is text, transcribe it (or better still include it in your tweet). If it is a graph or chart, try to describe the meaning. Make your tweets accessible to everyone.
  • RT the first tweet from your thread(s) at the end of the conference or the next day when people are back at their desks and wanting to reflect on what they have learnt. Your thread(s) will help them.

(NB Some people don’t like using threads because individual tweets can’t be included in a Wakelet or equivalent later. Personally I think it is more important to live-tweet in a way which helps someone follow everything you have shared. If you fire out lots of individual tweets, some will be missed.)

Why not have a go!

Live-tweeting isn’t for everyone. You may prefer to make your notes using a pen and pad to write or draw, or like to type longer-form notes. Or just sit and listen. We all have different ways of taking in new information. You need to get the most out of the event you are at.

But if you are confident on Twitter it can be a great way to take notes in a way that builds your profile and benefits others at the same time. If you can listen and tweet (and photograph) all at the same time you are good to go. Get on the wifi with your phone, tablet or laptop and start sharing.

You may find that having ready-made notes in this format, makes it easier to turn them into a blog post or report later. At the least you will have a thread (or series of threads) which you can look back on and / or share with colleagues.

#IoFFC live-tweeters

Here are some examples of people live-tweeting or sharing their takeaways from each session they go to, from day one of the conference:

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Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

I also live-tweet at conferences and events. If you are a conference organiser, don’t assume that there will be delegates who can help your expertly curated event reach a wider audience. I can help. Please get in touch.

 

 

Small Charity Week – round-up of useful posts

Today I volunteered at the Big Advice Day event in London organised by the team at FSI as part of Small Charity Week. They organised an impressive 315 hours of advice between over 120 advisors and 100 charities in the room and over the phone / Skype. The room was buzzing all day!

I spent an hour in turn with people from five amazing small charities and talked about digital comms / marketing / fundraising. The charities were very different (two working in development / overseas, two health charities and one local branch of a national charity). And of different sizes and ages. All were doing properly amazing and vital work with limited funds.

Here are some of the main themes which we covered and some links to relevant posts I have written, useful to small charities.

(NB I mostly include examples from larger organisations in posts as these are easier to find. I would love to include more from smaller charities. I think we can all learn from each other. Did you see the Small Charities Coalition, #BigSupportSmall campaign which launched on Monday?)

urban street art - snoopy the dog looks up at a flying yellow woodstock (from Charlie Brown)

Legacy fundraising

Four out of the five charities I saw today wanted to talk about legacy fundraising. Many had received legacy gifts but felt that they could do more to drive this type of support. Some were uncomfortable about making an ask.

We talked about using hooks to make the ask easier like Remember a Charity Week in September, Free Wills Month in March or significant events like an anniversary or capital project.

We mostly talked about content – for example, how to make the ask, what terminology should you use to inspire supporters to trust you enough to make this future donation? Really this depends on your audience and their relationship with you. Your ask might be more effective if made via a letter or mentioned in a speech at an event. However, you should probably still have something about legacy giving on your website to help people with the practicalities. The tone of voice and images you use here are key. Your direct relationship with your beneficiaries / supporters is a huge asset as a small charity. If you understand and show that you understand their motivations, you can write content which is powerful and persuasive. If you can show that leaving a gift like this, is something people like them do, it helps them take action too.

It is important to check the digital experience you are giving on your pages – for example can people find the information about gifts in Wills easily (how many clicks and where is it), is the information practical and helpful (does it tell them what they need to know)? Check the statistics if you can, to see where people are dropping off your journey and make changes as needed.

We looked at examples of others being creative, confident and appropriate in the messaging. There are lots of examples of this here:

Involving people with ‘lived experience’

More and more charities are involving people with first-hand experience of the cause at board level, in co-design of services, and in strategy setting. Many of those I talked to today were doing this but not yet involving them in comms. There are big opportunities (and risks) to include first-hand storytelling in your on and offline comms, funding applications and in-person events.

Comms processes

Being a comms / marketing / fundraising person in a small charity means prioritising and juggling. It can be easy to be overwhelmed by needing to be on 24/7. Some of this pressure can be eased by sorting out your systems and processes so that you don’t waste time looking for an image or re-writing a standard piece of copy. (I have a crib sheet of standard tweets, messages and links I can modify and use which saves loads of time.)

Spending some time working out your image strategy, thinking about crisis comms or working on monthly comms plan is time well spent. In a small charity you can be reactive but to avoid feeling like you are always chasing your tail, make sure this is balanced with some planning and preparation.

Small Charity Week

There is lots going on during the rest of the week including fundraising day on Thursday and celebration day on Saturday. Do get involved. The hashtag is #SmallCharityWeek.

Find out about the small charities near where you live. There are sure to be lots of them working from kitchen tables (see this fab thread from Tiny Tickers sharing their working spaces) or shared offices. They are on the ground working in your community or supporting people further afield. Just look at this great A-Z of small charities in Camden curated by Camden Giving which gives a flavour of the volume and variety of organisations in one London borough.

Use the Charity Commission charity search to find a small charity near you. Then find out how you can help. Donate your money or time or skills to give them a boost. Small charities need your support.

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Digital round-up – May 2019

Highlights this month: mental health awareness, campaigns about talking, animals (dogs, cats, ravens) and lots of great digital charity reads.

Not sure where the summer has gone! Pop the kettle on, turn off the news and catch up with some of the things you might have missed in May.

dandelion fluffy clock plus a few buttercups

How to use: Pick and choose links to read, or open in new tabs for later. Or bookmark this post. Even better, subscribe and get future round-ups direct to your inbox.

Content

20 questions to start a conversation with a young person, including 'what are you most looking forward to this week' and 'what makes you feel calm'

This month, it was #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek so there was some great content around. For example, have a look at:

Also this month:

Still from End Loneliness video - two men have a chat. One says 'I think I might just just go for a little walk around and actually say hello to someone'

six photos of men with their cats (including one of cats in a car)

Twitter takeover of the month: Ceri and Krissie’s Twitter takeover of the Scope account showing how Scope have developed their digital experiences to make them easy to use and accessible.

What are you doing for #SmallCharityWeek next week (17-22 June)? If you don’t work for a small charity, why not find a local one to support. Keep an eye out for the #BigSupportSmall campaign too.

Comms

Don’t miss CharityComms’ Getting ahead in your comms career conference next week (20 June). Follow #CommsCareer if you are not there.

Digital – strategy, design, culture

NCVO have updated the Digital Maturity Matrix to include service design, data protection and security. Have you used this tool to assess the digital maturity of your organisation? In today’s Charity Digital Report, it was cited (question4)  by just 23% of respondents. Do take a look if you haven’t seen it already.

Once you have done that, read Digital transformation is a leadership problem about team culture and blockages by Mike Bracken. Here’s his definition as he says the term has got lost in all the noise: “digital transformation is the act of radically changing how your organisation works, so that it can survive and thrive in the internet era.”

Parkinson's UK service team's principles (including we are people focussed, we are transparent)

Fundraising

Don’t miss the free online conference from Resource Alliance – 12 & 13 June: Fundraising Online including an international line-up of speakers.

People and organisations

illustration for Citizen's Advice future of advice plan

And finally….

Your recommendations

What did you read, watch or launch this month? Please add your links in the comments.

Can I help you?

Get in touch if I can help you with content planning, training or strategy. I work with charities of all shapes and sizes. I can help give your comms or digital processes a healthcheck and ideas injection.

——

Did you miss April’s round-up? Catch up with more good reads!

How to use a Twitter Moment

Twitter Moments were launched in 2016. They are generally underused in charity comms. A quick survey of 50 charity’s Twitter accounts found that only 18 had ever done a Moment. Most of the 18, had only done one or two. Yet they are a quick and easy way to present and preserve content.

Screenshot of 2 Cats Protection Moments with a small number of Likes

Engagement levels of Moments seem to be generally low but if you are using them infrequently and only sharing them once, this isn’t surprising. You need to have a content plan for sharing and integrating them within your comms.

Value shouldn’t just be based on likes, shares and opens. Having a permanent document of something is useful for lots of different reasons. For example a Moment can make it easier to share the story of an event during and afterward. Having an archive of Moments can help you to take stock and plan future comms. A Moment can be a great way to show Twitter activity to colleagues. Moments can also be used and reused as evergreen content.

Here are the most common uses for Moments:

  • to share an event
  • to preserve or share fragmented content
  • to have a permanent record of something important
  • to showcase your community
  • to present content in a different way.

1. Events

Runs, fundraising challenges and other events can generate a lot of tweets. The good ones can get lost in the noise or missed altogether. Having a Moment is a great way to showcase and celebrate what happened. They can brilliantly show the live atmosphere and hype of the event better than any write-up. And they can be useful months later when recruiting for next year or sharing the impact of what happened.

screenshot of Macmillan Cancer's tweet sharing their Moment of the London Marathon

Top tip: Try and make the Moment as soon after the event as possible. People get home and want to relive it. If your Moment is ready then, more people will look at it and share it with their friends. A Moment made a week later has missed the boat.

2. Content curation

Moments are also a great way to curate content on Twitter. Think of them as a simplified, single channel (much missed) Storify or Wakelet.

A Moment can be used to bring content together that would otherwise be hard to find. For example, responses to a question (user-generated content) or a series of tweets not made into a thread or when you want to include tweets from other people into your messaging.

screenshot of Time to Change Moment 1.4Likes

3. A permanent record

If something big is happening, why not make a Moment of it? Tweets will soon get lost in your back catalogue, never to be seen or used again. Document it live or after the event to help others follow what happened.

Tweet promoting Heads Together's Moment of the #MentalHealthMinute for Mental Health Awareness Week

See also: Rocur and Twitter takeovers – blog post from 2017.

4. Community building

I didn’t find very many examples of Moments being used to showcase community action. How could you use a Moment to thank or celebrate your community?

  • Cambridge CVS showcased small charities during Small Charity Week 2018.
  • Cats Protection gathered some of the best responses to their #CatMenDo campaign.

5. Fun / interesting content

Be creative. Moments can work in lots of different ways. Could you use a Moment to show your impact or as a brochure to your services or present complicated information (such as symptoms or research) in a Moment? Here are some examples of more unusual uses.

How to make a Moment – tips

If you haven’t ever made a Moment, they are pretty simple to do, just follow the steps once you click ‘Create new Moment’. Here’s a how-to guide from Twitter if you need one.

Here’s are some tips on how to do them well.

  • Choose a great cover image which will will be eye-catching and sets the scene for your Moment. I tend to put this tweet at the end of the Moment so that people don’t see the image twice straightaway.
  • Think of a Moment like an essay with an introduction, main points in the middle and conclusions at the end. Ease people in with a tweet which introduces the topic and at the end finish with something fun or silly or thoughtful. Don’t just trail off. I have sometimes written a tweet purposefully to use at the end of a Moment either in thanks or to ask a question or to signpost to further reading or a donation.
  • There should be a rhythm to your Moment. You have to curate it, so it flows and tells a story. For example you might put tweets next to each other which use the same colours.
  • Try not to include tweets which are very similar to others. Be ruthless. Not many people will make it to the end of a 20 tweet Moment. Put some good ones at the end – reward people for getting there!
  • Try to use tweets which only have one image. Tweets will multiple images take up more space and can disrupt the flow.
  • Include tweets with video or gifs or graphics to keep it interesting.
  • Make the title clear and short. Include the #hashtag if you are using one.
  • Tweet your Moment and @mention some of the accounts you have included to broaden engagement.

Top Moment makers

More about Moments

Do you use Moments?

Have you used Moments? Do you like them or think they are a waste of time?

Share your favourites and top tips in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.