Komen’s Antisocial Media

On Tuesday night Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced to the public that it was pulling about $700,000 in annual funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening services. The next morning, amid bad press and widespread disapproval of the decision, they gave us what could very well be the ultimate case study in nonprofit antisocial media

Komen says … it pulled the funding because of a policy change prohibiting the organization from funding groups under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. Because Planned Parenthood is the subject of an investigation by a Representative from Florida as to how the organization reports and spends its money, it is no longer eligible for funding under Komen’s new funding criteria.

Planned Parenthood says ... baloney. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood says Komen’s decision is politically-motivated and that the organization has been “bullied by right-wing groups.” Others point to Komen’s new anti-abortion, anti-Planned Parenthood vice president as the reason for the decision.

As Kivi Leroux Miller details in her post, The Accidental Rebranding of Komen for the Cure, the organization that made pink the new black prepared its donors and constituents for this announcement by doing … nothing.

And when the organization did finally begin to communicate with its supporters a half-day into 2012’s worst nonprofit PR disaster so far, the communication did little more than fan the fire further.

So what was so antisocial about Komen’s handling of this issue?

1. They didn’t talk about it (until it was too late). They left an announcement about Energizer becoming the organization’s latest one-million-dollar-plus corporate contributor twisting in the wind at the top of their Facebook wall until mid-morning:

As of Wednesday night, the post had over 2,000 comments, not about batteries.

2. They deleted comments. Until they posted their own statement on their Facebook wall they deleted anti-Komen comments.

3. They didn’t talk about it well, and they didn’t invite dialogue. When they finally put the Energizer Bunny out of its misery and posted a comment on Facebook mid-morning yesterday, their message was a corporate one about defending their position, not an individual one about having a dialogue:

In a medium known for its low tolerance for corporate-speak (i.e. BS), the closing comment that Planned Parenthood shouldn’t fundraise around the loss of breast cancer screening funding because it would be a disservice to women, is ill-chosen, if not nonsensical.

Planned Parenthood is, of course, fundraising and constituency-building around the issue because they have a great fundraising program, and an intelligent communications strategy.


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