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There’s something to be said for being prepared when a crisis happens. But we must understand that preparation means many things and comes in many forms.

It’s something that I am thinking about differently after attending the “Stand with Planned Parenthood: A Crisis Response” during South by Southwest Interactive.

During the panel discussion, current and former Planned Parenthood employees including Heather Holdridge, Stephanie Lauf and Nakia Hansen shared their three golden rules that helped them during a two month campaign beginning in February 2011 when the government attempted to defund the organization.

Their plan and approach included more than the traditional press release. The approach is something that seems so simple from the offset until you begin to put the wheels in motion.

The Golden Rules:
1. Prime your community so they’ll be there when you need them. Provide the community with credible information while building relationships. Some of this needs to be done by reaching out to communities on and offline. It also needs to be transparent, sharing the highs and lows along the way.

2. Get control of message early. You might not have the full fleshed out corporate response to what has happened, but a simple “Yes, we are on top of this ” and we’ll get back to you with all of the information is necessary. Your loyal supporters are looking for guidance and info in this digitally fast paced world.

3. Engage with your supporters and give them meaningful calls to action. Make the action items simple and easy that anyone can do. Examples include calls to Congress, share a message on your Facebook wall and changing your Facebook/Twitter profile icon.

One of the calls to action I loved and look to put into use involves a simple video clip. Planned Parenthood staff created quick videos with iPhone calling members of Congress. Sounds like such a silly thing to do, but working for a non-profit that asks its members to call elected officials we often hear that they don’t know what they should say. A simple and yet realistic video would take the ask and show a real life demonstration.

Planned Parenthood also made sure that they took content they created and created a hub on their website. If you were looking for information, it didn’t matter if you were intimately aware of the issue or read about it in The New York Times, you could go to a central hub to get everything.

For me, the light bulb came on during this session. Working for the South Carolina Hospital Association, we are doing a lot of work in advocacy and population health where these lessons can be applied. It’s time to reframe the work and inform the community.

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