No, it’s not exactly like it sounds. But it’s a pretty good story. Stick with me…
Following strong storms that killed 10 people and historic flooding in the northeastern portion of Arkansas, our team decided we wanted to give back to those dealing with disaster. On a Friday at Noon, we agreed to host a telethon that would start Monday at 5 a.m. That’s not much time to reach out to area businesses and look for big donors.
I decided to turn to social media and see if I could get anything going…
Attn AR Businesses! Want to help our neighbors in NE Arkansas following historic flooding? Let’s talk. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org pic.twitter.com/XjCEiL9gxI
— Austin Kellerman (@AustinKellerman) May 6, 2017
As you can see, I got a decent number of retweets. However, I only got one email.
Fortunately, it was the perfect one.
It came from a State Senator in Northwest Arkansas whom I’ve never met in person. We exchanged a couple emails and then this popped up on my timeline.
Put Hendren Plastics down for 1k & 1k from my campaign funds unless ethics comm. says we can’t (dumb) and challenge other #arleg to do same. https://t.co/K0nz0gwJcf
— Jim Hendren (@JimHendren1) May 6, 2017
From there, other state lawmakers saw our tweets and things started taking off!
@JimHendren1 River Valley not to be outdone. Put Valley View Farms down for a 1k and Rice Furniture down for a 1k and Eubanks for a 1k.
— Gary Stubblefield (@G_Stubblefield) May 6, 2017
The House won’t be out done. Count New Water Systems and Andy Davis for State Rep (likewise on ethics) for 1k each. #arleg https://t.co/LI9TzOv6uu
— Andy Davis (@AndyDavis_AR) May 6, 2017
Thank you to folks helping neighbors in need. @KARK4News & @FOX16News put me down for $2,500 personally to @ArkRedCross #HelpForPocahontas
— Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin (@LtGovTimGriffin) May 6, 2017
In a matter of 12 hours, lawmakers had pledged $9,500 in donations to flood victims. It wouldn’t end there. Sen. Hendren continued to challenge his colleagues to make donations and ended up making the trip to Little Rock with $3,250 in checks.
Other state leaders saw the tweets and made the decision to donate on their own.
@AndyDavis_AR Clarke Tucker for St. Rep. will do $1,000 too @AustinKellerman @JimHendren1
— Clarke Tucker (@clarketucker) May 8, 2017
Arkansans always help take care of each other. Count me in for a donation of $1,000, @KARK4News and @fox16news. #HelpForPocahontas #arpx
— Leslie Rutledge (@AGRutledge) May 6, 2017
One of my favorite donations came just minutes after the telethon ended. After seeing what we had done throughout the day, State Senator Linda Collins-Smith, who serves the area of the state the telethon benefited, sent me a DM saying she’d add $1,000 to our total. She had originally planned to make a donation to another group but decided she wanted to be part of this effort.
Throughout the telethon, she utilized social media to retweet our messages and post donations reminders of her own — including this “thank you” video she posted with some volunteers.
@AustinKellerman @FOX16News #arkleg @RedCross #Flood2017 #HelpForPocahontas thank you 2 all who gave generously 2 help others!
U R AWESOME! pic.twitter.com/0b6fWf9s3x
— Linda Collins-Smith (@Linda4Senate) May 9, 2017
We tried a lot of things to get people to donate on Monday. Some worked; some didn’t. None were more successful than that original tweet. Why? Maybe it was timing. Maybe it was luck. Bottom line: nothing’s going to work if you don’t try.
This time we hit a home run. And the flood victims will benefit.
In the end, we raised $94,000 for the American Red Cross and victims of historic flooding in Arkansas.
I hear a lot of people complain about the negatives of social media. Let’s not forget about its potential for good.
Thank you Arkansas! @ArkRedCross #HelpForPocahontas pic.twitter.com/p6mt7xbscV
— FOX16 News (@FOX16News) May 9, 2017