Everytown for Gun Safety and Snapchat: A Cautionary Tale

Snapchat app open on a phone.

Everytown for Gun Safety had an interesting exchange with Snapchat regarding coverage of the 2016 National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Photo: dennizn / Shutterstock.com

Nonprofits have to be careful who they work with, since their missions can be corrupted or tarnished by the wrong associations. Few organizations trying to curb gun violence would be willing to advertise for the NRA, for example, but Everytown for Gun Safety was put in exactly that position due either to a miscommunication or deliberate action by Snapchat, according to an article in Mic.

For National Gun Violence Awareness Day in 2016, Everytown reached out to Snapchat early in the year asking about advertising for its #WearOrange day, a day of advocacy organized by the charity. Rob Saliterman, Snapchat’s head of political sales, then quoted the organization at least $150,000 to allow Snapchat users to participate in #WearOrange day using custom filters and lenses.

But a little bit later, Snapchat’s editorial team also reached out to Everytown about a partnership for National Gun Violence Awareness Day, saying they were excited to spotlight Everytown’s star-studded movement and get involved with the organization’s “nationwide movement to honor all lives cut short by gun violence.”

Since Everytown had an editorial deal with Snapchat, they would get their publicity at no cost, and thus they no longer needed to use Snapchat’s advertising services.

Saliterman found out about the editorial team’s plan and emailed Everytown, “I just learned our News Team is doing a Live Story on National Gun Violence Awareness Day. I would urgently like to speak with you about advertising opportunities within the story, as there will be three ad slots. We are also talking to the NRA about running ads within the story.”

Everytown responded that they couldn’t afford the cost of the advertising, and pulled out of the project altogether, refusing to participate in the editorial side, either.

So, was this an attempt by Snapchat to strong-arm Everytown into buying ads by threatening them with having their story flanked by NRA ads, or was this a result of the kind of siloing that typically exists within news organizations—where editorial and advertising departments work separately? That remains to be seen, as neither Snapchat nor Everytown for Gun Safety responded to Mic’s request for comments.

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