Response Strategy of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

In early 2012, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation cut funding for Planned Parenthood after senior vice president of public policy, Karen Handle , stated that she did not support Planned Parenthood during a failed campaign for political office. This decision led to an out lash on both sides of the abortion argument. The Pro-choice public was outraged for obvious reasons and the pro-life public that had not been aware that the Susan G. Komen foundation had previously supported Planned Parenthood were equally outraged that they had been donating to an institution that supported planned pregnancy. 

The funding cut was reversed after a tremendous backlash of media coverage and promises to never again donate to the foundation by both sides of the abortion issue. This was followed by an apology and an explanation and although the SGK foundation funds Planned Parenthood as it always has in the past the damage to its image is vast and will take extensive time and effort to repair. 

As for the master list of reputation repair strategies, the best fit is good intentions.  A statement was released to explain how the organization meant to do well by cutting its funding to Planned Parenthood. Although a public apology was made and the decision was quickly reversed, an explanation for the decision was posted on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure website stating that the original intention was not to support “organizations under investigation” opposed to cutting funding due to political affiliation.     

In my opinion this was the correct response to this particular PR disaster.  The foundation quickly and apologetically admitted that it was wrong to enter itself into the world of politics where a donation driven foundation does not belong.  The first mistake was hiring Karen Handle who served as the Secretary of State of Georgia and came with a predisposed political agenda.  Regardless of what that agenda was she did not belong in the arena of a fundraising foundation that is supposed to exist solely to help people survive a deadly disease. Breast cancer doesn’t care if a person supports planned pregnancy because it is an indiscriminate killer and an entity that fights an undifferentiating killer must be indiscriminant itself.  The mixture of a quick apology, reversal, and explanation was powerful enough in my eyes to forgive an organization that I believe helps a lot of very sick people but I think that it will be a long road and hard work for PR to bring back the commitment that many people had to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. 

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