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Three Ways To Prepare For The Possibility Your Campaign Goes Viral

With Jason Russell, the co-founder of Invisible Children, (hopefully) resting after an episode that his wife says was “brief reactive psychosis,” the Kony 2012 campaign rolls on. Today we have word from CEO Ben Keesey and director of idea development Jedidiah Jenkins that a sequel is coming next week, which will provide an update on the LRA and the conditions on the ground in the places affected by its heinous acts.

This time around, with some help from the PR firm Sunshine Sachs, the group will likely be ready for any questions, responses, backlash, and positive reactions to the video.

Let’s hope no one is running around asking publicists and marketing pros to whip up a viral campaign. But sometimes, whether we expect it or not, that’s exactly what happens. Kony 2012 is the most viral video in history, so that sort of situation is unlikely to be duplicated for a long while. Still, after the jump, we have three tips to help campaigns of all kinds prepare for the possibility of spreading quickly, far, and wide.

-Be ready for success. Oftentimes campaigns set goals and both PRs and clients can get knocked off guard when those goals are exceeded by a great amount. While it’s wise not to over-promise, it would also be smart to outline a plan of action just in case the response goes above and beyond what your campaign was designed for.

That means having a digital plan to avoid any website crashes or failures; preparing for any unexpected media opportunities that may arise; and having extra hands and promotional materials on deck in case overwhelming interest is sparked. If you really feel you’ve got something special, this is a must.

-Designate a couple of reliable spokespeople. At first, Jason Russell’s name was more closely tied to the Kony 2012 campaign than the larger Invisible Children organization. As a result (or perhaps by design since he was the filmmaker), Russell’s voice, through media interviews and other follow up, became the lone voice for all of the good and bad tied to the campaign.

While an organization’s leaders should be accessible and ready to answer questions, there ought to be select others who can tackle some of these duties as well. They can also help to share both the stress and the success of the campaign. Moreover, each of these spokespeople can reinforce that the effort is coming from the entire organization.

-Prepare for close scrutiny. Campaign organizers have an idea that they’re going to talk about points A, B, and C. The media and the Internet have other ideas. Once something catches on, it gets sucked into a vortex where everyone wants to say or write something about it. Campaigns and the issues they touch on get picked apart by everyone with an interest. For example, the Kony 2012 campaign turned into a discussion about “slacktivism,” mobilizing audiences below the age of 25, politics in Uganda and its surrounding countries, and local Ugandan response.

Become an expert in the issues that your campaign overlaps with so when these questions arise, you can thoughtfully answer them. Can you prepare for everything or have all the answers? No. But having a solid grasp of some of the obvious topics is a necessity. And once the questions go too far afield, there will be experts elsewhere that the media can consult for answers.

Anything else you would add to this list? Feel free to take to the comments.

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