How Susan G. Komen Can Cure Its Reputation

It’s been more than a year since Susan G. Komen for the Cure found itself in hot water regarding its decision to cease funding for Planned Parenthood. The organization has been in recovery mode ever since, and the recent reports that it has canceled its three-day fundraising events in seven cities suggests that it has not fully recovered.

Komen is the nation’s largest breast cancer advocacy organization, and its pink ribbon has made it one of the most recognizable brands in the U.S.

Still, it seems like the organization has to step up and bolster its once-infallible appeal. As an advocacy organization, Komen needs to continue its efforts to raise money. However, it is saddled by a definitively bad decision it made in 2012, one that disenfranchised several supporters and alienated stakeholders.

Moving forward, the organization will need to take drastic measures to rebuild its brand. With that in mind, here are some steps that Komen should take to rehabilitate its reputation.

  • Remind people what you do: By backing out of Planned Parenthood, Komen found itself in the middle of a political firestorm that shifted the conversation away from what the organization’s mission is and what it’s accomplished. In order to move forward the organization will have to clearly define itself, and communicate that it is more than just a fundraiser.
  • Create emotional appeals: Breast cancer touches a lot of lives, and Komen has been instrumental in promoting early detection and research. An estimated 3 million breast cancer survivors live in the U.S., and while Komen should not take all the credit for that statistic, the organization needs to communicate how its efforts have played a role in saving lives.
  • Embrace the community: There is no argument that Komen built a strong brand, but now it’s time to rebuild the brand from the ground up. That means grassroots campaigns. Pink ribbon iconography and national sponsorships are great for a healthy brand, but the most effective way to get people to internalize your mission is to communicate with them face-to-face.


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About Caysey Welton

Caysey Welton is Associate Editor at PR News and Folio: Magazine. He spent more than a decade as a chef and restaurant professional before switching tracks to pursue his passion for media and communications. Caysey has a deep interest in converging media landscapes and ecosystem disruptors, public relations and crisis communications. He holds a BS in Media, Culture and Communications from New York University.

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