Content Management: The ACLU’s Rapid Response to Current Events

You’ve heard it before – the media market is shrinking and people are increasingly getting their information directly from the source. Blame it on the millennials – everyone else does. Whether you view the changing media landscape as a positive or a negative, it’s a reality, which is why you often hear us talking about the importance of strong content and—some might argue—the necessity of a content management strategy.

Recently, one organization’s response to current events highlighted the power of the model.

Setting politics aside, the president’s recent tweets on transgender individuals in the military took many by surprise. Certainly few organizations had the topic prescribed in their content calendar for the day, which is why the ACLU’s swift response was sheer communications brilliance. Here’s why it worked:

  1. It leveraged all content channels…swiftly.

Within hours, the ACLU activated its content management strategy by pushing a clear message out across all available channels. In less than a day, the team issued a press statement, made experts available for media interviews and panel discussions on major networks, posted a blog, created a hashtag that quickly began trending, went live via Facebook and Periscope to answer questions, created a video op-ed and so much more. The swift and thorough use of its content streams is the perfect case study for why a well-executed content strategy works.

  1. It had a clear, shared goal.

It’s a common pitfall in communications; you want to issue a statement, press release or op-ed, but it has to be reviewed by so many departments that by the time it is approved, the opportunity has already passed. It’s clear that the ACLU’s teams – communications, legal, etc. – had open lines of communication and a shared goal of responding not only accurately, but also quickly.

  1. The response was on-brand.

If McDonald’s responded in a similar way to the matter at hand, it may have created a quick social media response, but it wouldn’t have had the same impact on the company. Part of the brilliance of this response was that it reinforced and strengthened the ACLU’s existing brand. The ACLU’s mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States,” and, as such, it is known for having strong stances on current events. This response reinforced that brand and, not insignificantly, likely created a flood of new funding for the organization from supporters.

  1. By being first, it defined the story.

Okay, they may not have actually been the first to respond, but by getting out quickly with its narrative and reaching audiences across so many platforms, the ACLU had the opportunity to define the tone of the story. That’s the power of being first AND factual.

While it’s by no means easy to generate a comprehensive strategy like this, the benefits of shaping the preliminary conversation are significant. The proof is there—just look back at the last time that the ACLU responded quickly to a situation it perceived as a threat. It raised $24 million in under three days.

Looking to add a content management strategy for your brand? We can help! Drop us a note at resteasy@devinepartners.com.

We are Devine + Partners, communications and content experts who specialize in public relations, issues management (crisis communications), content management and digital communications.

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