Even in its reversal, Susan G. Komen’s crisis PR erred

The author calls the breast cancer foundations handling of this week’s Planned Parenthood announcements one of the worst acts of reputational recklessness ever.

On Tuesday, Komen appeared to have been caught flat-footed when news broke of its decision to defund Planned Parenthood. Komen’s inability to respond swiftly is particularly surprising given that they made their decision back in December. But in a New York Times story, Komen board member John Raffaelli offered some insight into what went wrong:

“Avoiding this kind of controversy was the very reason Komen chose a quiet ending to its relationship with Planned Parenthood.”

A “quiet” ending? Seriously, Komen? You couldn’t have anticipated that ending your relationship with Planned Parenthood, an organization that evokes incredibly strong emotions (both pro and con), might generate some controversy?

Komen’s decision to bury its head in the sand instead of breaking the news itself is one of the biggest acts of reputational recklessness I’ve seen. In fact, Komen’s initial crisis communications response violated all seven of the seven truths of a crisis.

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