Tag Archives: protest

Learning From Komen’s Race For The Clue

8 Feb

What do these things have in common: Netflix, Bank of America, SOPA, Susan G. Komen for the Cure?

Answer: they’ve all got tread marks on their backs from social media protests.

The last six months have provided an amazing string of case studies on how protests movements are being changed forever by the speed and reach of social media.

Forget about organizing workers to gather signatures on a petition, or emails calling for a boycott of some company’s product. Those are your grandfather’s protest tools. Today’s protests take shape in a matter of days, and the battles can pivot in a matter of minutes. Gone are colorful posters with catch slogans. Today the canvases are short emotional messages with hash tags or links.

So every company that deals with the general public, makes large donations to causes, or has a line of business that can be considered even remotely politically influenced needs to rethink its communications plan. If you don’t have a disaster plan already on the shelf then this is your chance to prepare for being hit by a runaway train.

Let’s use the events surrounding Komen for our example. If you’ve been living under a rock you can find a good summary of the controversy here (under the heading Relationship With Planned Parenthood). If we pick apart the past seven days we come away with six critical lessons.

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Shazam! The Sound of Action

23 Jan

So often we have a great idea for a campaign, but the questions inevitably comes down to “How do we make sure it succeeds?”

The same was true for French division of Amnesty International and their recent drive to collect signatures civil rights abuses by military forces. This year the organization decided to turn each signature into a note of an ever-expanding song so that authorities could actually hear the scope of the protest.

That’s a great idea. They even got a famous Israeli musician to create the song. But how do you get the message out for people to join the effort without investing heavily in advertising?

The answer here, and so often overlooked in many campaigns, is to take the message out of advertising and engage the audience in a more organic fashion. When are you most focused on the nature of a song? When you can’t name that tune.

Amnesty International partnered with Shazam, the wildly popular mobile app that listens to a song and identifies the name and artist. Sometimes Shazam can’t work its magic. But rather than delivering its standard error message, in this case it delivered a powerful call to action:

“Valentina Rosendo Cantu could not make herself heard either. Assaulted by soldiers, she asked for justice but the authorities refused to investigate.”

With one click users could add their names to the petition. And click they did.

More than 257,000 (and climbing) signatures were gathered, a 500% increase. The resulting song was made into a CD that Amnesty International now distributes.

It was a great success, not only for the protest, but for Shazam too. While some TV ads have linked to the app for marketing efforts, this program demonstrates the utility of the program as a gateway to extended communication.

Here’s a video case study of the Shazam extension. And you’ll find the supporting web site here. But be warned, it opens with a rather unsettling animated video message.