February 15, 2012
PR Perspectives: What If Komen Had Stuck To Its Guns?
By Susan Tellem, APR, Partner, Grody Tellem PR
After doing crisis management for 30 years, I have become a bit of a contrarian. For example, I have problems with everyone's rush to judgment with the Komen-Planned Parenthood crisis. It seems most of the crisis managers are on the same side on this issue.
I also have a strong dislike for the rampant apologies and backpedaling that we are seeing by organizations and companies because of social media. What happened to backbone? Sticking to your guns? Taking no prisoners?
Remember why Komen made the decision? The statement said, "We made the decision to implement stronger performance criteria for our grantees to minimize duplication and free up dollars." Nothing wrong with that. Any group should be allowed to decide where to spend its money.
Komen went on to say that those new standards require Komen to eliminate funding to groups under a federal investigation. Planned Parenthood falls into that category. Nothing wrong with that. Ditto on where money is spent.
Enter social media, and the backpedaling began. Perhaps the crisis would have disappeared had Komen stuck to its policy (we'll never know), but because it did not, the whole thing turned into a major crisis, heads rolled and social and mainstream media began to tear Komen to shreds.
It's possible that if Komen had not become wishy-washy and stood firm, the crisis would never have happened. While I agree companies and nonprofits should think things through before they make any decisions that have far reaching consequences especially in the Twitterverse, once the decision is made, and for what the company believes is good reason, please stop wimping out.
Susan Tellem, APR, RN, BSN, is a partner with Grody Tellem PR, Inc. and has 30 years of crisis management experience handling such high profile subjects as Medicare fraud, E. Coli poisoning, union strikes and the Michael Jackson molestation trial.