#KONY2012: What NOT To Do For Your Brand

Soooo about KONY 2012. Right. Me either.

As I walked with a friend to the White House Garden Tour Saturday I saw the one lonely poster placed on a traffic box. I said to my friend, “They still did the plastering I see.” She replied, “I don’t know why. Folks don’t even know anything about Joseph Kony. They followed the hashtag on twitter and all of a sudden wanted to be down. Kony isn’t even IN Uganda anymore. He’s in exile.”

Last Friday, April 20, was supposed to be KONY 2012 “Cover The Night” event. “Every city on every block” was to be covered with the infamous KONY 2012 posters as a public declaration to find and capture Joseph Kony. With hundreds of thousands of posters screaming KONY 2012 the grassroots organization, Invisible Children, would have been one step closer to its goal to capture the monster behind the death of millions of Ugandan children.

One problem. The leadership behind KONY 2012 failed in a crisis. #reputationmanagement101

Now follow me here. I was a couch potato supporter of Invisible Children and their efforts to rally the minds and energy of young people. I was amazed at the success of their 2011 campaign and told myself I would surely be a part of the 2012 campaign. When I watched the 30-minute video about KONY 2012 last month, I like many millennials, was moved- inspired even. I was a paypal payment away from getting my toolkit and rocking a t-shirt. But one thing stopped me: the overzealous social media, namely twitter, rally to support this cause.

Excuse my french, but we happen to be a bandwagon generation. We’ll support anything with over 100,000 followers and a YouTube video. o_O. And quite frankly, I just can’t. I need more.

I chose to sit back and see what happened after the week-long worldwide twitter trend. Less than a week later it all started to hit the fan. Invisible Children co-founder, Jason Russell’s public err.. disturbance was the first spectacle to impact the decline of the movement. Next came accusations of charitable donation mishandling. By the time the media ripped the campaign and Invisible Children to shreds, you could hear nothing louder than crickets over the twitters for #kony2012.

Where did all the supporters go? What happened to the ra-ra sis-boom ba? On one college campus where 250 students registered to Cover the Night less than 20 showed up.


When incidents affect an organization’s reputation, it takes more than a statement from the CEO to smooth things over. And the fact that KONY2012 is a short-term campaign, much more should have been done to keep supporters engaged.

As we’re all working to build strong personal and professional brands, knowing how to manage our reputation is key. Reputation management begins long before a crisis ensues. Unfortunately for many individuals, companies and organizations- like Invisible Children, we don’t think to take our brand temperature until it’s too late. We’re then stuck scrambling to put it back together or simply forced to take an ‘L’ like KONY 2012’s Cover The Night Initiative.

Will KONY 2012 reach their goal by their fall deadline? I can’t call it. However, what I can call is their need for some serious reputation management to restore the trust among their intended audience. How can they do this? So glad you asked….

…I invite you all to join me tomorrow evening at 8pm for the second For Goodness Sake webinar: Strengthening Your Image: Personal Branding & Branding For Non-Profits. During the webinar we’ll discuss reputation management tactics we can begin to implement now. The webinar will also feature Tiffini Gatlin of Tastemaker Magazine, who will talk about branding your business while also managing your personal brand. I’ll also be talking to Amy Genao of A.Anaiz Photography who will help us understand the importance of a strong brand image. Registration is Free. Join the conversation! REGISTER NOW!

Until next time…stay good! 😀

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