What if...you and your colleagues labored for years to fund, design and (finally) open your highly-visible museum (or cause/issue-focused organization)?
What if—because the museum’s reason for being is so close to folks’ hearts and heads—the design and build is highly scrutinized for the many years it takes to launch?
And what if, when the museum finally opens, it gets hammered with criticism because….you’ve been creative, resourceful and realistic in terms of budget needs and sustainability, building in revenue streams from a good restaurant, a gift shop and private event hosting ? Or—really—because the museum’s focus is SO sensitive.
This is exactly the position that The National September 11 Memorial & Museum finds itself in right now. What would you do?
The recent triple murder at a Jewish Community Center (JCC) and Jewish-run retirement home in Kansas City—by a white supremacist, because he thought his victims were Jewish—generated empathy and concern among everyone I know. It was made even worse by the timing just a few days before the anniversary of 2013’s Boston Marathon massacre.
But for us Jews, about to celebrate Passover the next evening, it spurred extra sadness, anxiety and fear. Like many other peoples, Jews are periodically targeted for acts of hatred and violence. And this one, coming on the eve of such an important holiday, was especially frightening.
I was awed by the way community leader Alan Feldman, CEO of JCC Metrowest, conveyed calm, reassurance and hope to members and student families in this right-things, right-now email. He implemented this six-point approach:
Like you, my heart and head are heavy in the wake of Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, CT. Especially since I feel so helpless.
My gut is that’s how many of your supporters and prospects are feeling as well, and what will be top of mind for at least a couple more days. So be respectful and responsive, even though you’re pressured by the year-end push for support.
Here’s how to communicate best post-catastrophe:
Once your organization’s reputation is seriously damaged, it’s difficult to restore trust and focus on successes.
And once your organization’s reputation is damaged multiple times—as is the case for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, with its screw-ups in de-funding Planned Parenthood, suing other organizations with “cure” in their organizational or program names and partnering with the heart-stopping Kentucky Fried Chicken—restoring confidence and support is almost impossible.
Mila Rosenthal, Executive Director of HealthRight International, is a Letter to the Editor (LOE) expert with a significant record of success. Read on to review her most recent success — a strong, concise, pointed Letter to the Editor of The New Yorker — and Rosenthal’s tips for your own efforts.
Re: A Deadly Misdiagnosis
December 6, 2010
Michael Specter describes the way that sketchy private clinics in India are preying on people at risk of tuberculosis, and simultaneously undermining an under-resourced public-health system (“A Deadly Misdiagnosis,” November 15th). When public and private health-care systems compete, poor people are often the victims, caught between lousy care and unaffordable care. We see this in Vietnam and in Russia—anywhere that a government is unable to devote sufficient resources to the public-health system, or unwilling to regulate a private one. Unfortunately, in countries such as these, diseases like TB will continue to spread until they reach populations rich enough to afford good treatment. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to health and well-being, which includes medical care. As Specter’s article illustrates, letting only the principles of the market shape health care in poorer countries means that most people will be denied that right.
Mila Rosenthal, Executive Director
Here are Rosenthal’s tips for your Letters to the Editor:
- Identify which type of Letter to the Editor you are writing. Rosenthal distinguishes between the letter to correct the public record and the advocacy letter, crafted to get your message out on an issue. Her New Yorker letter is the latter, designed to magnify the issue covered in the article she’s responding to, and to position HealthRight International as a major player in the health rights field. She does a great job in both respects.
- Ensure that your letter is reviewed by your organization’s media expert. Rosenthal stresses the importance of the right program (in a large organization) submitting its Letter to the Editor, on the right issue at the right time. “Remember that an organization is likely to have a letter placed only once or twice a year,” she cautions.
- Encourage local offices or activists to submit Letters to the Editor in local papers. National or international organizations have a lot to gain from local and regional coverage, says Rosenthal.
- Self-publish your nonprofit’s Letter to the Editor whether they’re published or not in the target channel. HealthRight headlined the letter on its home page and covered it in depth on its website.
More on Writing Letters to the Editor that Gets Published and Read
How to Write a Letter to the Editor that Gets Published and Read (Case Study)
How to Write a Letter to the Editor that Gets Published and Read – Part Two – Letter to the Editor Tips from an Expert (Case Study)
P.S. Learn how to strengthen your nonprofit’s messaging with the all-new Nonprofit Tagline Database and 2011 Tagline Report.