Out of every tragedy, inevitably, comes opportunity. In the public relations world, crises bring an opportunity to create change — whether it’s as simple as a change in your company’s leadership or as monumental as a change in the world’s priorities. The case of #BringBackOurGirls seems to be the latter.
Let me preface this post by saying that I in no way intend to make light of or draw attention away from the real issue that #BringBackOurGirls stands for. In April, more than 200 Nigerian school girls were kidnapped by a terrorist group and have since been subjected to the unimaginable, including being sold for $12 and forced to marry their kidnappers. In referring to #BringBackOurGirls as a PR Win, I applaud governments, nongovernmental organizations and individuals around the world for using media and PR tactics to create real change in the world.
#BringBackOurGirls is the social-media based response to the tragedy in Nigeria, launched by Los Angeles-based director Ramaa Mosley. Although she barely understood the meaning of a hashtag at the time, she has launched one of the most visible social media campaigns in recent history as #BringBackOurGirls trends on both Twitter and Facebook day after day. And if Instagram showed trending lists, I’m sure it would show up there, too. The hashtag was inspired by the chants of Nigerian women in the village where the kidnapping occurred — and now it’s the chant heard ’round the world.
Since its launch, celebrities, government officials, activist groups and NGOs alike have shared the hashtag. Supporters range from POTUS and FLOTUS to Kerry Washington to Kourtney Kardashian. Its relevancy in the world today, where women’s rights are becoming increasingly talked about, makes this campaign ultra-shareable and relatable. And although a social media post won’t necessarily bring the girls back physically, it’s ensuring that the world as a whole finally takes a stand on women’s issues.
From a PR perspective, the hashtag has won the world over with its shares, retweets and “regrams.” It makes use of some core public relations concepts: keep the message simple and appeal to emotion. The message that was born in the voices of concerned villagers has now transformed into a worldwide call to action. It’s simple, it’s memorable, and it has the potential to create real change — what more could an activism social media campaign accomplish?
For the sake of the Nigerian girls and the international community, #BringBackOurGirls.
Missed last week’s PR Win? Check it out here!