Crisis Communication Key to Leadership Transition for Famous Santa Fe Indian Market

In the midst of preparations for the 93rd Santa Fe Indian Market, scheduled for August 2014, the organization’s two highest profile staff members resigned in very public ways.  The Garrity Group was retained to assist with the crisis communication issue which blew up on the organization’s Facebook page shortly after the Chief Operating Officer and Public Relations Director for the Southwest Association of Indian Arts (SWAIA) resigned.

With the public conflict impacting possible involvement of 1,100 Native and Indigenous artists, one of our objectives was to move the discussion from the organization’s Facebook page as quickly as possible, to foster conversations amongst the most coveted audience – the artists.  We developed a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document for the website with the goal of generating moderated dialog outside of social media.  However, the organization’s website provider said it would take 48 hours to add the content; with increasing digital conversations and media coverage, this important element could not be delayed.

Consequently, The Garrity Group took on the project and within 12 hours, developed a custom Wordpress website with a unique URL ( that featured the FAQs and a forum for conversations The website generated 600+ users and 1,000+ page views in six days.   The approach was successful in moving the discussion from the Facebook page and providing a more secluded dialog to address the complex transition issues.

To drive traffic to the website, The Garrity Group developed a Facebook content calendar with an aggressive frequency. Messages included stories of support for SWAIA and a call-to-action to visit the website. This approach generated a 24% increase in weekly Facebook stories and reached over 9,500 unique users in one day.