Philadelphia’s Huntingdon Valley swim club is on most television news – probably worldwide - for its seemingly racist action against Creative Steps Inc. Apparently the club had a contract to allow 65 African-American and Hispanic children use the pool. Huntingdon Valley looks like the 21st Century’s Lester Maddox.
The good news is newspapers like The Arizona Republic have not been reporting this. It is not a press release, so the paper didn’t run it under their reporters’ byline. The bad news is the negative image building will continue. Here’s a Help A Reporter Out (HARO) request from July 10, 2009:
Helping young children of color cope with racism
Email: Helpareporter@gmail.com (Put RACISM in sub)
Media Outlet: Anonymous
Specific Geographic Region: N
Deadline: 01:07pm EASTERN - 11 July
In search of parents of children of color who have needed to help them cope
with racism. Also looking for experts for advice on how kids and parents
can respond and process in light of a suburban Philadelphia pool denying
access to a group of black children. E-mail interviews for now with RACISM
in subject line.
There are ways to remedy this situation, but public relations professionals, those missing Twitter, won’t think of. That’s why you need Marketing Sociologist.
First and foremost, fire your president. Realign your Board of Directors, jettisoning at least 60 percent – so what if they had nothing to do with it. It is an opportunity to get rid of the dead wood and make your organization look good.
Rarely do I like press conferences, but Monday (not over the weekend) would be the opportune time to do one. Invite all the major networks, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and get on Larry King.
Over the weekend you make all the changes and line everything up.
At Monday’s press conference, you announce the firing. You announce the new board. You donate $100,000 to Creative Steps Inc, but that is not enough.
You announce that you are helping Habitat for Humanity build a home in the Creative Steps Inc neighborhood and in its name. You get volunteers from your organization and Creative Steps Inc before the cameras to announce this.
Now that’s where most public relations practitioners – if they even got that far – stop. Marketing Sociologist gets a video up on YouTube DURING the press conference. You do not release a press release BEFORE your press conference, but at it – listing your YouTube video.
Also during the press conference you launch a flurry of Twitters while the conference is happening – with video links to your YouTube video, photos of the press conference as they happen via Twitter.
As the media coverage on your event happens, you assemble new YouTube videos. You have a MySpace and Facebook page just for the event – the Habitat for Humanity home building. You have a slogan, you have a logo. Even President Barack Obama’s presidential bid had a logo.
There’s lots more that NEEDS to be done to rebuild Huntingdon Valley swim club image. The point is, how often have you missed opportunities like those presented to Huntingdon Valley swim club before the media jumped all over this? All this could have been prevented if they had consulted with Marketing Sociologist immediately, or before it happened. What about your organization? How much success are you missing?