Camino Public Relations and Planned Parenthood
PR and Moral Outrage: Turning a Viral Video Attack Into a Brand Promotion
In July 2015, anti-abortion activists went after Planned Parenthood again, using "undercover" video to portray the health group as traffickers of "baby body parts."
It turned into a huge media story with top-tier journalists reporting, Congress calling for hearings, and a dozen state governments began investigating. All of this threatened the clinic’s reputation, and ultimately, its ability to provide its health services.
Threats against its staff were on the rise, too. An anti-abortion activist even took hostages at a Colorado Planned Parenthood, killing three. The crisis was spiraling.
Camino PR turned to a strategy used by health pros to contain infectious disease, systems dynamics.
Seeking to disrupt a loop of "moral outrage" fueled by longstanding suspicion of the organization combined with additional video releases, it used a counter-balance loop to stop the momentum.
In the first hours of the crisis, Planned Parenthood released its own video, with president Cecile Richards pointing out the inaccuracies in the footage, but also addressing the emotional nature of people’s feelings.
Analysis showed the videos were deceptively edited to present false assertions, and that evidence had an immediate impact on media. It also worked to reduce political support of the anti-abortion activists and repair damage with shaken supporters.
As the Planned Parenthood "loops" gained strength, the moral outrage loop shrank. And support for the group increased following the video.
"Excellent forensics and thorough approach to breaking down a crisis," explained one judge.
A federal judge declared the activists’ films "misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions of criminal misconduct," stopping their claim to legitimate journalism in its tracks.
Havas PR and the 4A’s
An Industry Under Fire Comes Out Swinging
When a lawsuit accused the then-CEO of J. Walter Thompson of sexist and racist remarks, tensions on the subject threatened to boil over into the ad industry at large. With Havas PR, the 4A’s launched a gender equality and diversity effort comprised of events, webinars, content development, and more. It focused on the fact discrimination was indeed alive and in need of addressing by ad leaders. It earned more than 400,000 media impressions. More importantly, resulting research proved to firms that a problem existed. The conversation shifted to, "How do we fix this?"