Miles the Batkid caused “smilecries” across the world last week as thousands of people came together in San Francisco to help make an ill 5-year-old’s wish come true. Hearts were warmed and bumps were goosed all over the world as cheers and support for #BatKid were amplified on social media.
I was especially touched and intrigued having spent four years as the PR Manager for a tri-state Make-A-Wish chapter early in my career. Last Friday I found myself wiping tears off my laptop as I witnessed Miles’ wish come true via live feed with his sweet family by his side. I thought about the phenomenal details put together by the wish-granters and the anticipation they must have felt leading up to that day. My thoughts naturally led to the blend of stress and proud accomplishment that the PR department must have been experiencing with the media attention. But most of all I was astonished by the explosion of social media support and how beautifully it reflected the core mission of the organization. The Make-A-Wish Foundation began in the 80’s with a young boy whose wish to be a police officer was organized and granted by volunteers just before he died. The experience brought joy not only the child and his family, but to all of those involved and the mission continues to do so today. But the community has grown from a small town’s involvement to to support coming from across the world.
Miles’ wish (selfishly) got me thinking about my career path’s rocky transition from traditional public relations to social media. At my local Make-A-Wish chapter we were not permitted to partake in social media despite the joyful storytelling nature of the wish-granting program. It’s not surprising as 2007 was a time when early adopters were blogging, tweeting and just beginning to comprehend the power of social media. As an enthusiastic 27-year-old, it was a frustrating roadblock, but looking back it was a valuable experience. My knowledge of public relations and stubborn youthfulness gave me confidence in the future of social media despite the common belief that social networking was a trend. I am also very fortunate that my boss at the time was a forward thinking marketer who felt the same way. (Shout out to Michele, a now BFF – text me when you read this). We ended up diving into social media and doing what we loved on our own. To say the least, developing my career as a communications professional from 2002 to 2013 has been fascinating. It’s mind-blowing to think that I was faxing press releases about stories like Miles the Batkid to media outlets when I started out. Yes faxing. So now I am feeling old but will comfort myself with the conclusion that times have changed exponentially and I am fortunate to have been in the midst of it.
Here’s a great social analysis of Batkid by the numbers from Mashable.