Image Patrol: Komen Foundation vs. Planned Parenthood: Proper PR Wins Out

Despite all we have learned about managing difficult announcements in the past year (can you say Netflix, Bank of America, Verizon?), the actions by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure in the week of Jan. 30 and beyond are some that students will study for decades to learn how not to make a crisis worse. In contrast, Planned Parenthood’s choices were textbook perfect, 21st century communications. (Transparency alert: I’m a breast cancer survivor, my oncologist is the medical director for Komen and one of my best friends is the medical director for a Planned Parenthood office. To say that I was conflicted about this crisis is an understatement.)
For millions of us who, up until last Tuesday, thought Komen could do no wrong, the news was simply unbelievable. Like many others, I heard it first on Twitter. In fact, unless you were on a Planned Parenthood or MoveOn mailing list, your only source of information was the news. Komen did no proactive outreach to inform its supporters—or even its organizers—of the firestorm that was coming.
The lack of communications is even more surprising when you consider that Komen won communications kudos just a few years ago, when it rebranded and spent a year reaching out to local chapters to explain why they did it and to strengthen relationships to ensure that the new logo and brand were correctly used.


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