By Latisha Ellison
Instead of spending Father’s Day with his daughter, Bill Conner spent the day with the 21-year-old man who received Abbey’s heart; Abbey was an organ donor. When she passed away suddenly in January, her organs, eyes and tissue were used to save the lives of four men ages 20-60. To honor his daughter, Bill biked from his home in Milwaukee, WI to Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. and made a stop in Baton Rouge, LA to meet the man who received his daughter’s heart.
The Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) spent weeks planning the meeting, securing media coverage and ensuring the meeting went off without a hitch. The result? A viral video showcasing the benefits of organ donation and a father reunited with his daughter. The LOPA team was at PRSSA 2017 National Conference and shared their success with us during their breakout session.
A few key takeaways to be applied to any nonprofit experience:
Know your brand and tell its story
LOPA is responsible for organizing and advocating for organ and tissue donation, and one of the most important parts of its job is educating the public and debunking organ donation myths. Knowing your brand and its mission is crucial to storytelling and gaining that brand recognition.This meeting allowed LOPA to tell the story of how one young woman was able to save four lives through organ donation.
Flexibility is a good quality to have regardless of your profession or industry, but utilizing it in nonprofit is imperative. Most likely, you are the only communications person at your nonprofit, so you are wearing many hats. The LOPA team had three main women working on this project, so it was up to them to adjust when things didn’t go as planned. Bill called one of the women the morning of the meeting to tell her that he would be there much sooner than expected. The team had to get to the meeting spot, call the media and other important people to try to get them there hours before they were originally expected to be there. You never know when something will go wrong or not go as planned, so you have to be ready to change the course of action when called upon.
PR is all about relationship building no matter what your industry is. For this project, one LOPA team member reached out to a friend who is in the medical field to borrow her stethoscope, so Bill could hear his daughter’s heart. That same friend also loaned them a Doppler which allows everyone to hear the heartbeat, as well as a recorder so the heartbeat could be recorded and given to Bill to always have with him. This relationship allowed a special moment to last forever and created a visual that would be shared around the world.
Thank you to the LOPA team for sharing an incredible story and insights that can be applied across the board.