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Reddit Hands You $600K: Now What?

The Internet do-gooders prevail again. In another spectacular display of the power of the online community to rally behind a worthwhile cause, Reddit has successfully raised over $600,000 to donate to Karen Klein, the victim of abhorrent bullying at the hands of a gang of pre-teen miscreants. When the video went viral on YouTube, Klein received an outpouring of emotional and financial support, as a PayPal account was established to send her on a much-deserved vacation in light of the torment she received. There is an interesting debate developing, however, as the donated funds quickly mounted beyond the organizer’s imagination. These events lend to two questions in particular: is raising north of $600,000 (and climbing) for a bullying victim overkill, and what unique PR problems are in store for Karen Klein?

In spite of what’s widely perceived by the public as a noble undertaking for a woman who was needlessly verbally abused, Karen Klein’s situation will undoubtedly be the source of scrutiny. What began as a genuine attempt to raise $5,000 to send her on a nice vacation has increased exponentially to a life-altering sum of money, leading many to question if the amount of donations were unnecessary. As someone who was unwittingly thrust into the public eye, Klein now has a distinct set of public relations circumstances that she will have to manage.

Klein has been rather mum on what she intends to do with the funds, and as is her right; she did not come to the public seeking handouts or sympathy, her life changing circumstances were the direct result of a viral video and compassionate benefactors. Unfortunately, the court of public opinion has no regulation, and some op-ed writers are now calling for her to give the money back.

Being thrust into the spotlight immediately opens you up to the media microscope, and with public relations, this presents an innate set of issues. If unprepared, as Karen Klein unequivocally was, it’s entirely possible to step on your own toes and turn the public against you.

An interesting story will unfold as more details emerge as to the final monetary tally and Karen’s intentions, and certainly many news outlets will provide their own opinion as to what they feel is the right path to take. Whether you agree with online users’ graciousness or not, we can all agree that what Karen Klein was subjected to is a wretched testament to the state of our society, and should never, under any circumstances, be tolerated.

-Carter Breazeale

PR/PR Public Relations

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