PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Good fortune was totally unplanned

WASHINGTON: Odds are you received the e-mail: 'Make a donation to Planned Parenthood in President Bush's name and have a card sent to the White House.' But like most people, you probably dismissed it, sounding as it did like one of those 'forward this e-mail to 10 people and the Gap will send you a lifetime supply of Capri pants' things.

WASHINGTON: Odds are you received the e-mail: 'Make a donation to Planned Parenthood in President Bush's name and have a card sent to the White House.' But like most people, you probably dismissed it, sounding as it did like one of those 'forward this e-mail to 10 people and the Gap will send you a lifetime supply of Capri pants' things.

WASHINGTON: Odds are you received the e-mail: 'Make a donation to Planned Parenthood in President Bush's name and have a card sent to the White House.' But like most people, you probably dismissed it, sounding as it did like one of those 'forward this e-mail to 10 people and the Gap will send you a lifetime supply of Capri pants' things.

Fortunately for Planned Parenthood, more than 20,000 people took it seriously - to the tune of over dollars 500,000 in donations. So we would like to make our own donation in the form of a PR Play of the Week (not necessarily in President Bush's name, of course).

It started like this: Patt Morrison, a Los Angeles Times columnist, decried in her January 26 column the president's order to block funding to some international family-planning clinics. In protest, she wrote she would donate money to Planned Parenthood in the president's name, knowing they would send him a card telling him she had done so. That was Friday.

Over the weekend, an as-yet unidentified person put the idea into an e-mail.

'By Monday we started getting calls,' says Molly Smith Watson, Planned Parenthood's director of development for direct response. 'By Wednesday, it was pretty obvious this thing was becoming its own viral marketing campaign.'

Planned Parenthood seized the opportunity. The 85-year-old nonprofit created a special section on its Web site exclusively for taking donations in the president's name, even allowing donors to write him personalized messages. Media coverage, actively sought by Planned Parenthood, included articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Salon. com among others. The best part, according to Smith Watson, was that 'the majority of these seem to be new donors.'

The cards - all 15,000 of them - were delivered to the White House on President's Day. No word from the press office yet on who will be handling the 'thank you' notes.



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