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Pink Politics How Komens Planned Parenthood Communications Response Unraveled the Pink Ribbon.

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Presentation on theme: "Pink Politics How Komens Planned Parenthood Communications Response Unraveled the Pink Ribbon."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pink Politics How Komens Planned Parenthood Communications Response Unraveled the Pink Ribbon

2 Overview Susan G. Komen for the Cure (SGK) Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PP) SGK & PP history Defunding communication timeline Communication strategies and reputation management Discussion Lessons (Re)learned

3 Consider the following: What type of public relations is being practiced by SGK? PP? What role does organizational transparency play in this case? At what point did this situation turn into a crisis for SGK? How could that have been prevented? What are your recommendations for SGK going forward?

4 Susan G. Komen for the Cure* Founded in 1982 by Nancy Brinker Most widely known and best funded breast cancer organization in the United States Developed the worlds largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors Solidified the pink ribbon brand for breast cancer Leveraged cause-related marketing * Previously known as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

5 Planned Parenthood Founded in 1921 by Margaret Sanger* Largest provider of reproductive health services in the United States including cancer screening, STD and HIV screening/counseling, contraception and abortion; serves about 3 million clients each year Began receiving federal funding in 1970, when President Nixon signed into law the Family Planning and Services and Population Research Act Federal funds cannot be used to perform abortions * The Planned Parenthood Federation of America was founded as the American Birth Control League.

6 Susan G. Komens & Planned Parenthoods Partnership 2005 – SGK begins partnership with PP for breast cancer screening/education SGK provides PP with funds of $680,000 (2011) and $580,000 (2010) in recent years; This represents about.002% of SGKs grant funding The PP/SGK partnership makes SGK target of anti-abortion groups

7 Partial Defunding of PP Timeline November 2011 – – SGK board votes to implement new funding criteria (funded organization cannot be under federal investigation) – SGK affiliates informed December 2011 – SGK informs PP that 16 of the 19 previously funded chapters did not meet new funding criteria – PP asks for a meeting – SGK responds with letter but no meeting

8 Timeline continued January 31, 2012 – Associated Press publishes story that SGK is withdrawing funding from PP – PP sends out email to supporters asking for funds to replace the money SGK had pulled for breast cancer screenings – Social media sites Twitter and Facebook flooded with pro- PP and anti-SGK messages – SGK remains silent except to pull negative messages off of its Facebook page

9 SM examples Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. - "Komen's decision hurts women it puts politics before women's health. @komenforthecure should be ashamed. Political satirist and Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead:"I am crying n a cab at this Komen decision. Tomorrow we will rally. Who is in this fight with me! You can no longer sit idly by. The AP story posted on has nearly 400 comments as of this moment. The most recommended at this time: "I will be halting my support for Komen and I will be telling them why. This is just silly." [From "Fly Butterfly."] (source - erupts-over-susan-g-komen-halt-of-grants-to-planned-parenthood)

10 Timeline continued February 1, 2012 – SGK releases statement and posts video emphasizing the need to strengthen funding criteria to exclude pass- through grants. No mention is made of undergoing federal investigation as a funding bench-mark – SGK does not respond to TV news requests for interviews – PP announces that they have received $650,000 in the past 24 hours thereby replacing the former SGK funding amount

11 Timeline continued February 1, 2012 – SGK representatives grant interviews: SGK founder and president state to the Washington Post the funding criteria is based on pass-through grant status and not congressional investigations At the same time, SGK board member states to the New York Times that SGK specifically changed the grant process to end its relationship with PP because of the congressional investigation Three sources tell The Atlantic that Karen Handel, a SGK board member and former Republican candidate for governor of Georgia and prominent anti-abortion foe, was behind the decision to cut the PP funding Additional interviews by SGK employees and board members ranged from stating that Handel was primarily responsible for the decision to her basically not having anything to do with it at all

12 Timeline continued February 3, 2012 – SGK announces that it has reversed its decision – PP announces that has raised nearly $3 million to replace the SGK funds and has added 10,000 new fans on its Facebook site – The Atlantic releases internal SGK documents dating back to December 2011 that explained new grant procedures. Pass-through grant status is not mentioned in these documents

13 Timeline continued February 5, 2012 – The Huffington Post reports that Handel was the main force behind the decision based on emails, etc. February 9, 2012 – SGK founder, Nancy Brinker, publishes an open letter in the Washington Post admitting that the situation had been mishandled

14 Timeline Continued March 2012 – Mass exodus of employees and board members begins with resignations or restructured and less visible positions within SGK including the founder and the president – Handel resigns - l/breastcancer/story/2012-02-07/Official-quits-breast-cancer-charity- over-dispute/52997520/1 l/breastcancer/story/2012-02-07/Official-quits-breast-cancer-charity- over-dispute/52997520/1 August 2012 – SGK founder, Nancy Brinker steps down as chief executive and SGK President Liz Thompson resigns

15 Discussion The decision to defund some PP chapters was known for over a month before this situation went from a low visibility issue to a high visibility issue within a matter of hours – what prompted that change? What is your assessment of SGKs communication plan? PPs communication plan?

16 Discussion continued Both PP and SGK have a strong presence in the non-profit arena and a solid reputation. How could one of these organizations fall so far out of favor in such a short period of time? How important was traditional media in this scenario? Social media? What are your recommendations to SGK moving forward?

17 Lessons (Re)learned Engage in two-way communications with all stakeholders – internal and external Develop a strategic communications plan in order that the organization can: – Truthfully and promptly represent an organization in a crisis – Exhibit transparency – Speak with a unified voice – Stay on message – Be available to the media

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