For example, the no-makeup selfie reportedly raised £8m for Cancer Research in six days and the ALS ice bucket challenge was powerful enough to even engender support from world leaders.
While the Fawcett Society has now refuted claims made by the Mail On Sunday that the T-shirts were made in a sweatshop, the correction came late and, to some degree, damage has already been done.
In this case, the Fawcett Society has been slow to put the record straight, which could suggest it didn’t have a close handle on the situation.
For charities and organisations that hang their hats on ethical standards and champion the vulnerable, and that are asking the public to join them in this commitment, this backdrop of reputational management is even more important.
But this is not enough. Often companies have business response plans in place but don’t get comms leaders involved.
In the case of the Fawcett Society it is looking like the supply chain processes were all in place but not visible enough with the communications team.
Ideally, the Fawcett Society should have gathered supply chain information in advance and prepared draft holding and reactive statements in the event of anyone questioning its ethics.
And let’s face it, if you’ve got politicians and celebrities wearing your T-shirt the media are certain to dig around and ask questions.
While the preparation wouldn’t have stopped the negative headlines, it would have meant a more instant response and potentially less damage.
What we really need to do is learn from this and similar reputational crises and understand that now more than ever before, if you are going to stick your head above the parapet it is an absolute certainty that someone, somewhere will try to take a pot shot at you – and you had better be ready.
Rebecca Scully is MD of Smarts Illuminate