Media Minute: Pink Slip
By Jerry Brown, APR
We won’t know for a while. But it’s certainly possible the answer is yes.
At a minimum, Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s decision to drop its financial assistance to Planned Parenthood will go down as an epic PR blunder. Let the case studies begin.
Komen for the Cure successfully stopped last week’s media feeding frenzy by apologizing and backpedaling from its recently adopted policy of not funding any organization under “investigation.”
But that’s not the end of this story. Komen for the Cure’s still an organization in crisis. Whether it continues to thrive — or even survive — remains to be seen.
Komen for the Cure’s misstep and the ensuing controversy have been well documented. I don’t have anything to add to that.
My take on the future? Komen for the Cure has created a no-win scenario by injecting itself into the fight over abortion rights. The irony is that the money Komen for the Cure provides to Planned Parenthood is for cancer screening and education, not abortions.
With its miscalculation, Komen for the Cure has put itself under a microscope for scrutiny by opposing groups important to its success and survival. And it almost certainly will suffer more losses to its reputation and influence regardless of what it does in the wake of last week’s events.
Many supporters of continued support for Planned Parenthood believe last week’s apology and backpedaling were nothing more than an effort to stop the immediate PR damage while leaving the door open to cut off money to Planned Parenthood later.
Some of these skeptics are likely to withhold their support for Komen for the Cure at least until they’re satisfied there won’t be a repeat of what happened last week. That’s going to hurt Komen for the Cure’s reputation and fundraising for some time to come.
And neither these skeptics nor those who took the apparent reversal by Komen for the Cure at face value are likely to forgive a repeat performance.
On the other hand, pro-life advocates intent on putting Planned Parenthood out of business aren’t likely to reduce their pressure on Komen for the Cure to sever its ties with Planned Parenthood. If anything, the pressure’s likely to increase because they now have a proven headline-grabbing hook for their crusade.
That leaves Komen for the Cure in a no-win situation. If they wait for the dust to settle and then cut off funding for Planned Parenthood as the skeptics fear, they’ll lose the support of a critically important constituency for good. They might not survive that. If they continue funding Planned Parenthood, they antagonize pro-life advocates and become a highly visible pawn in the vitriolic debate between pro-life and pro-choice supporters.
Either way, Komen for the Cure loses.
So, now what?
Shutting down the media frenzy was the easy part. Now, Komen for the Cure has some tough choices to make, choices that will cost them politically and financially no matter what they do.
So, Komen for the Cure needs to decide what it wants to be and what it will do when it comes to this issue. Whatever it decides, it needs to be completely honest and transparent about what it’s decided and why. And then it needs to step up and do it, openly and honestly. Fake reasons designed to soothe the feelings of the side it offends will backfire.
Did Pink give itself a pink slip? Time will tell.
That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?
Next week: The article on editing I originally planned to do this week. And a few tips for becoming a better editor.