No matter how you feel about abortion services or Planned Parenthood, you have to agree that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation handled its decision-making and communications regarding its defunding of Planned Parenthood very, very poorly:
- They did not discuss the decision with their affiliates, let alone involve those affiliates in the decision. Some of the affiliates (Oregon and Connecticut, and perhaps more) even issued press releases after the Komen headquarters announcement asking for their HQ to reconsider. When your organization’s own affiliates are asking PUBLICLY for you to reconsider a decision, you have made a grave error.
- They gave contradictory statements about why they were defunding Planned Parenthood. Sometimes they said it was because of a new policy not to fund any organization under investigation by state or federal authorities – yet they had no plans to discontinue funding for Penn State! They said the decision wasn’t political, nor because they had hired a dedicated, outspoken advocate against the right to abortion services – Karen Handel – who retweeted this on her Twitter account, contradicting Komen’s statements about this NOT being a political decision:
The original image from Lisa McIntire
Today, Komen somewhat reversed its decision regarding Planned Parenthood, but left the door open to stop funding the organization after the current funding cycle. It has not gone unnoticed that Komen has also stopped funding stem cell research. It has also has not gone unnoticed that Karen Handel is still a senior vice president at the Komen foundation.
This PR nightmare is not over for the Komen foundation. Can the foundation rebuild trust with the thousands of women who are saying they will never support the organization again? Can it successfully make this switch in its work, avoiding any organization that garners criticisms from far-right religious advocates, and therefore be the target of women’s rights advocates?
How should have Komen handled both this decision and the communications of such? Or is there any way for them to have done this without suffering such massive fallout with so many (now) former supporters? Share in the comments section here.
Also see: How to Handle Online Criticism.