The Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Negative Publicity
The Susan G. Komen Foundation initially called Susan G. Komen for the Cure and previously known as Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, is the largest non-profit organization mandated to fight against breast cancer and to provide other health services to women through donor funding. The mission of the organization is to: “Eradicate Breast Cancer as a life-threatening disease by advancing research, education, treatment and screening” (The Susan G. Komen Foundation, 1999).This mission is achieved through advocacy for increased empowerment, quality health care for all, and science advancement to encourage research and education (Gayle, 2010).
Recently, the organization faced a challenge that saw its public image plummet despite the respectable image it had portrayed since its inception. The organization made a mistake by pulling funding from one of its core sectors, which is the Planned Parenthood docket. This was due to a misguided judgment after receiving a report, which had been requested from the house. The report, which was to give information about eligibility of organizations to receive funds from the Susan G. Komen foundation, unfortunately gave a wrong report concerning the said docket. This was driven caused due to the intention of some Republican anti-abortionists in the house at the given time, who did not support the funding of the Planned Parenthood kitty. This forced the organization to pull funds assigned for Planned Parenthood and to direct it towards cancer screening (Hiltzik, 2014).
The then vice president for public policy, also an anti-abortionist was the biggest force driving the decision. She left the position slightly after the scandal. The scandal was most likely to bring about negative publicity for the organization because:
- As an organization that advocates for eradication of Breast cancer and to save lives, it is expected that the foundation should support any activity that leads to health gain.
- The Planned Parenthood docket is the nation’s leading provider of health services to women. Consequently, defunding it translates to denying several women an opportunity to receive the much needed health services.
- Thirdly, as a non-profit organization, the Susan G Komen Foundation relies solely on donations for its activities. It therefore means that by defunding the Planned Parenthood docket, the donations given for the sake of that specific docket have not been put to their intended use. The donors would therefore be justified in denying the foundation any further assistance through donations.
- Based on the biased information given by the house due to the motives of some Republican anti-abortionists, the decision to defund the Planned Parenthood can be seen as judgmental and biased. It also denies those who do not necessarily support abortion the chance to access basic health services.
As the Public Relations department, it is our objective to ensure that the image of the company remains in high profile despite the obvious challenge. In order to accomplish this objective, our goals in dealing with this issue include:
- To alleviate the impacts of the negative publicity that is already received.
- To improve the public image of the company in light of the scandal
- To maintain beneficial relationships between the organization and the entire public as well as between the organization and the donors
Steps to take
To achieve the stated goals, the public relations team intends to carry out the following steps:
Communicate with the Planned Parenthood teams to re-establish contact – this will help in the latter stages when the public needs to see that the incumbent issues have been resolved
Carry out a press conference to inform the public of the Foundation’s mistakes, to apologize for the misjudgment and to reassure them that the pulled funds will be reverted back to the course for which they were initially intended. This should be followed by action i.e. delivering the promise of reversal. During the press conference, the public should get a good explanation as to why the funding was pulled in the first place. To create more positive impact through the press conference, the foundations P.R team should be accompanied by individuals from Planned Parenthood who will also help in assuring the public that agreements have been made for reimbursing the pulled funds.
Take a campaign stance in support of Planned Parenthood – this can be achieved through Corporate Social Responsibilities (Cutlip et al., 2009). This will help to raise the foundation’s profile with regards to Planned Parenthood.
Re-establish contact with the donors – This is for continued funding of the planned Parenthood docket as well as the other sectors that depend on donor fund. This can be achieved through acquaintance of the donors with Planned Parenthood so that the trust of the donors is regained. This is because in any situation where a donor’s funds are not directed to the initially intended use, the donor, on realization, may lose trust in the organization to which he/ she donates (Cutlip et al., 2009).
Publicizing the Foundation’s activities: This will help to attract more people so that they may witness the works of the foundation in the society and hence connect to it more (Cutlip et al., 2009). To achieve this, it will be essential to use online marketing tools as well as the available social sites so that the impact of the foundation is felt.
Finally, it would be unwise to engage only members of the P.R department in the foundation’s quest for positive imaging. The PR department therefore will require the involvement of all the employees of the foundation in the activities aimed at reviving the company’s glorious image. This can be achieved by giving a hand particularly during the press conference by being present, as well as during the planned activities.
This task may be difficult to evaluate since there is no quantitative measure for success. However, the success of the entire process will be evaluated in three months by observing the impacts of the negative publicity on our public relations. For instance, although it is expected that the donations may drop during this month, an increase in the donations in subsequent months will give a reflection of how well the public image of the company is being improved.
An increasing donation will mean an improving public image while a declining donation will prove the contrary. The rate of increase in donations will be used to predict the level of success of our activities.
The goal of public relations in any organization is to ensure that a positive image of the organization is kept at all times. This is achieved through various means. As the public relations team at Susan G. Komen Foundation, it is our duty to take the foundation back to its former glory. The strategies that we have laid down will be fruitful if taken seriously.
Cutlip, M.S, Center, A.H, & Broom, M., (2009). Effective Public Relations. Pearson.
Gayle, S. (2010). Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health. Oxford University Press.
Hiltzik, M. (8 January 2014). Susan G Komen Foundation Discovers the Price of Playing Politics. Los Angeles Times.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation (SGK), (1999). The Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Neoplasia Vol. 1(4): 379 – 380.