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Going Viral on Twitter: Responding to the Colorado Theater Shooting

By on Sunday, July 22, 2012

Can one tweet make a difference on an important issue, when sent out succinctly, with facts and in a timely way while news is still breaking? Oh yes.

Shaun Dakin,  one of my online PR colleagues who participates in Progressive Communicators, sent out this tweet on Friday. He was touched by the shooting and found these facts published by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He tweeted it out, thinking nothing big would happen.
It was just one person’s response to the horrific tragedy unfolding on our TV screens Friday morning as we saw lives changed by senseless tragedy. Dakin wrote:

Then, Roger Ebert Re Tweeted my tweet and the world went crazy.

By the end of the day, Ebert had written two pieces online with one in the New York Times, about gun control policies and looking at the history of mass shootings in the United States.
Dakin’s original tweet was re-tweeted, 10 times a minute, thousands of times. People were sharing these statistics as a way to try to move forward in talking about what this terrible tragedy meant to so many and to our country. He did this Storify summary to share his experience.
It’s a great example of how one key fact, tweeted at the right moment, when people want to listen and talk about the issue, can be heard. Regardless of how you feel about gun control, this is a great example of how timely tweeting can impact public discussion as a nation grapples with making sense of tragedy.
Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design work for publications and websites (portfolio). Ami blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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