No News is NOT Good News: What Went Wrong with Komen for the Cure

Part one in a two-part series: Communicating in Times of Crisis. Be sure to read tomorrow’s post on Developing a Crisis Communications Plan.

Bummer for breast cancer screening.Komen for the Cure Planned Parenthood

I’m sure you’ve read the news (or at least the tweets) by now.  Yesterday afternoon, the AP reported that Komen for the Cure has decided to halt grants to Planned Parenthood, which were used for breast cancer screening for low-income women. According to the reports, Komen made this decision back in December based on a new policy that prohibits them from granting money to organizations under investigation. Because Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-FL, is investigating whether government money was improperly spent on abortions, Komen said its decision to stop the funding was final.

The controversial news spread crazy fast over traditional news and social media platforms. In the meantime, Komen for the Cure remained curiously quiet for nearly a day. In doing so, they missed an opportunity to strategically respond to the public discourse–or at the very least, save face.

In her blog post today titled The Accidental Rebranding of Komen for the Cure, Kivi Leroux Miller said: “I believe we are witnessing the accidental rebranding of what is surely one of America’s biggest and most well-known, and even well-loved, nonprofit brands. Komen for the Cure, it seems, is no longer a breast cancer charity, but a pro-life breast cancer charity.”

This is a brand they may not have chosen, but one that is now choosing them.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of Life or Choice, there is a good lesson in this for all organizations. Every foundation and nonprofit needs a crisis communications planperiodNot sure what a crisis communications plan includes? Find out in tomorrow’s post: Developing a Crisis Communications Plan.

Your opinion please! What do you think Komen for the Cure could have done differently to prevent this communications debacle? I’d love to hear your comments.

About Elaine

Elaine Gast Fawcett helps grantmakers, nonprofits and businesses tell their story, market their mission and attract more support.
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2 Responses to No News is NOT Good News: What Went Wrong with Komen for the Cure

  1. Robert Ballou says:

    Lack of strategy at Komen points to leadership assuming the rightness of their position. Decisions to add funding, not subtract it, are often based on self-evidentiary, humanitarian, reasons. I could understand a move like this if we had Medicare for everyone (the single-payer option where everyone is insured) but…well…we don’t have that in the USA, at least, not yet.

    Here, Komen felt it could pull funding based on a business decision, not a humanitarian one (unless you factor the Pro-Life efforts into this decision). If Komen truly believed its donations to Planned Parenthood were funding anything other than breast exams, it could certainly have investigated on its own. I honestly feel this could have been settled with a conference call at the executive level in half a day. I’m also itchy about the Komen’s claims that they just tightening up the grant process. Is this coming down to a form of, “You have to ask me nicely”?

    Where will the funding formerly assigned to Planned Parenthood ultimately end up? “Discounted” fees for breast exams at area hospitals still won’t cut it for women struggling for bus money to their nearest out-patient center.

  2. Pingback: Communicating in Times of Crisis: A 7-Step Plan for Saving Face | Philanthropy Writing: The Heart of Giving

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