Behind the Scenes with the “brains” of #SFBatkid

By Hilary Burns, Assistant Account Executive at LCIbatkid 1
If you haven’t heard about the heroic SF Batkid story which was sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Greater Bay Area, you must have been living under a rock and can learn about it here. I had the opportunity to meet the “brains” behind #SFBatkid during a recent PRSA San Francisco meeting and learn about how the event came to be.
The planning behind five-year-old Miles Scott’s wish, including how and why it went viral, was truly inspiring. One of the main takeaways I garnered from Patricia Wilson, executive director of Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area and Stefania Pomponi, founder of Clever Girls Collective, is that any great campaign must start with great content in order to achieve great results.
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Next up, it’s helpful to develop a social media strategy. Ironically, “Batkid” did not originally have a social media plan until Clever Girls Collective created one a mere ten days before the event. The plan was to leverage all Batkid communications materials with the hashtag “#SFBatkid” via Twitter. Once word leaked of the event through SFist, the story and the hashtag went viral and ultimately elicited nearly two billion social impressions.
Wilson and Pomponi had no idea #SFBatkid was going to achieve the results it did and the organization was not prepared for this success, either. With just a few days leading up to the event, Wilson recounted multiple camera crews waiting in their office lobby, in addition to the hundreds of emails and phone calls received from reporters and well-wishers. Her small team was completely overwhelmed.
Although the large number of media requests was not expected, a great PR lesson learned from this experience is to “PRep” for success. For future events that have the potential to go viral, Make-A-Wish and other organizations should issue a press release announcing the event and also distribute a media friendly onesheet to reporters. Additionally, conducting a press conference will help reduce the stress of needing to respond to hundreds of individual inquiries.
According to a USA Today article, Batkid’s story ignited Make-A-Wish’s fundraising efforts, with nearly $88,000 in donations as of early December. This staggering amount exceeds last year’s donation total by nearly $20,000.
Questions or comments about #SFBatkid? Please leave them in the comments section below.
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