Is Your Organization Doing Some Good? Communication Snafus May Stifle It

“Hello–I am trying to reach someone in your PR/Marketing department. A client of mine is donating money to your organization, and I need to coordinate communication–prior efforts via this page have not borne fruit.”

Two weeks ago, that was my post on the Facebook page of a nationally renowned charitable organization. Frankly, I was sorely tempted to write, “Hello? Anyone home? Anyone have a marketing clue?”

You see, it was not my first attempt to connect with this group. Over the prior two weeks, I had left messages with the organization via phone, email correspondence and an earlier post on its Facebook page. None of those attempts had ever been acknowledged.

So my restrained language was rather impressive, I thought, in light of this collective indifference.

By this point, it is hardly a shocker that the last missive was likewise ignored. Already, in my first encounter with this 40-year-old charitable giant, I had formed a view of it as a fortress-like institution that didn’t care about me, my client or why it had chosen this organization to support.

“Donating money?” is the implicit message. “Donors are a dime a dozen.”

On this organization’s website, an icon proclaims “Connect” while offering links to its Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest pages. But what good is it to say “connect” and then fall down when it comes to actually enable the connection?

Today, my client cut a check and mailed it to the charity, making good on a public declaration of its intent to support it, along with five other organizations, as part of an extensively publicized promotion. I am confident the check will be deposited in short order by the group (whose mascot is a red-nosed, red-haired guy who wears big red shoes, a striped white-and-red long-sleeve jersey and has the letter “M” on his bright yellow jumpsuit.)

But the sum pales in comparison to what appears to be systemic negligence on the part of its social media/public relations staff. If this “recovering journalist,” with a knack for persistence, can’t break through their shield, then how’s John Q. Public faring? Multiply this “small fry” in Chicago by others trying to create dialogues that would benefit this organization and pretty soon you’ve got an Extra Large Fries of a crisis on your hands.

Of course, it’s impossible to measure, since their annual report won’t include “messages ignored” or “calls not returned.” And that’s the very definition of insidiousness.

For your own company or cause, does this vignette amount to a cautionary tale? Are you maintaining vigilance and seeing to it that phone calls are returned, that inquiries made via social media are addressed? Don’t let the good that you do become undermined by frayed lines of (non)-communication.

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