Shared Messaging Breaks Through in a Crisis

Oak Creek, WI, August 2012

Within an hour of the mass shooting at a Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, WI, in August 2012, ReThink was working with the Sikh Coalition to get their response out to top media outlets, and with the larger Muslim, Arab, and South Asian (MASA) community to shape and promote vigils nationwide. Although the shooting was devastating, through our rapid response efforts, the Sikh Coalition became the national “go-to” source on civil rights issues affecting the Sikh community. The larger MASA community aligned around shared messaging, key spokespeople, and unifying visual elements at the vigils and beyond. The shared messaging helped shift the national conversation to one of pluralism—“We are all Sikhs”—and toward a message that an attack on any single religious community is an attack on us all.

Boston Marathon, April 2013    

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, we sent one of our senior staff to provide full-time on-the-ground support to the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. At the same time, the wider collaborative of Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian (MASA) organizations and community members were eager to stand as allies. In addition to supporting the ISBCC, we provided groups with talking points, messaging guidance, and social media best practices, aimed at shifting the media narrative from focusing on the attackers’ faith to instead focusing on the resilient response of a united and pluralistic community. We underscored a shared set of values—“We are all #BostonStrong”—emphasizing that we are stronger when we stand together and weaker when we allow fear and bigotry to divide us.

ReThink Media case study - Boston Marathon, Boston Strong

Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, June 2016

And after the tragic Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, our staff became the de facto communications shop for the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, which was inundated with hundreds of calls from the press and had no capacity to handle them. We helped triage the media requests, organized a press call, matched spokespeople to high-priority outlets, and pitched and placed op-eds. Additionally, we provided talking points to the White House liaison for the Muslim community, helping to inform President Obama’s response to the crisis.

We’ve gotten wind of lots of useful stories before they’ve appeared on listservs or come from our in-house media people, so whatever you’re doing to get them to us quickly, it’s working.

Center for Constitutional Rights