Thursday, November 29, 2012

Making Gilda Matter

On the heels of yesterday's debacle that is the Gilda's Club name change announcement (how bad is it? Just look at the comments on their Facebook page) I offer the following unsolicited advice.

What is the real issue with furor over the name change?

By revoking the name of the inspiration behind Gilda's Club, the directors  broke their trust with their core constituents. After all, if they can turn their backs on Gilda, will they really honor all the other principles and promises of the organization?

When a brand's contract is broken, the brand itself is broken. It won't fix itself.

You could just say, "Never mind" and do nothing hoping that sooner or later everyone will just forget this whole unseemly mess. That strategy will leave the brand in a weaker position in the long run.

This is a bad public relations faux pas, but it provides a unique opportunity to harness the passion Gilda's Club advocates have shown. The club's directors can use it to benefit the club and strengthen Ms. Radner's legacy, but they must act quickly, honestly and sincerely.

So here's the plan.

Step 1: Hold a press conference with as many Gilda's Club members as possible in attendance. The board's director should step up to the microphone and say, in no uncertain terms "We made a mistake. We will never remove Gilda's name from our doors or any aspect of this organization." Don't blame anyone else. Don't cite any research that tries to explain why you had planned on making the switch.

The rest of the press conference should be a retelling of Gilda's story and some words from other members who were inspired by Gilda. Take a few questions, but again, own the decision.

Communicate the same on all social media platforms.

We are a very forgiving people. When people make mistakes and own them, we are quick to embrace them. When they make mistakes and hide or worse yet, cover them up, the results can be disastrous. See Nixon, Richard; Clemens, Roger; et al.

Step 2: Create a PSA to run on local television that communicates the Gilda's Club mission and close with the original logo and a tag underneath that read "Cancer Support Community"

Step 3: Do as many local, regional and national media interviews as possible to raise awareness for Gilda's Club, explaining the organization's mission, vision, values making Gilda's story the centerpiece of your story.

Step 4: Host a grand rechristening party at Gilda's Club where you can show a long format video about Ms. Radner and her inspiration for the club. The party should be a celebration of her life, her legacy and the people you've helped. Bring in some star power: get Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd or Jane Curtain to talk about working with Gilda.

Step 5: Create a long-term plan and with a signature annual event designed to keep Gilda's name and legacy alive. The brand only matters if you make it matter. Her legacy has faded over the years because you've allowed it to do so.

You never have a better moment to create a brand fan for life then when you fix a problem for them. And you do have a problem. Fix this right and you can re-establish Gilda's legacy for generations to come. If you'd like some help, call me. I'll do it for free. This organization and Ms. Radner's inspiring story are too strong an asset to let fall by the wayside. If I can help in some small way, I would be honored.

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