Gini Dietrich

Komen Provides Excellent Crisis Management Case Study

By: Gini Dietrich | February 6, 2012 | 
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So Susan G. Komen caved to pressure and reversed the decision to not fund Planned Parenthood.

Fantastic!

Or is it?

Did they cave because of the outcry, both online and off?

Or did they cave because they were caught not applying their “we don’t fund organizations under investigation” rule across the board (Penn State receives funding and Bank of America is a major sponsor – both under investigation)?

It doesn’t matter how you feel about the entire situation. If this were a political blog, it would matter. But it’s not. So we’ll talk communication instead.

What does matter on Spin Sucks is the incredible PR crisis management case study it’s providing.

During my research for this blog post, I discovered a few things:

  1. Susan G. Komen has a consumer PR agency.
  2. Susan G. Komen has a crisis management agency.
  3. The crisis management agency for Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood are one and the same.

Let’s put aside the third thing for now (talk about a situation that became a huge conflict of interest last week!) and focus on the fact that Komen hired their crisis management firm last summer.

They were hired to “monitor media, support speaker programs, and provide issues counsel around controversial topics that could affect the organization, such as Komen’s position on embryonic-stem-cell research.”

So, then, let’s assume because the decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood is policy and not an “issue,” they likely weren’t asked to create scenarios in which things could go very wrong.

Until last Tuesday, when things went very wrong.

The Atlantic spoke with John Hammarley, who until recently served as Komen’s senior communications adviser and who was charged with managing the public-relations aspects of Komen’s Planned Parenthood grant.

“About a year ago, a small group of people got together inside the organization to talk about what the options were, what would be the ramifications of staying the course, or of telling our affiliates they can’t fund Planned Parenthood, or something in between.” He went on, “As we looked at the ramifications of ceasing all funding, we felt it would be worse from a practical standpoint, from a public-relations standpoint, and from a mission standpoint. The mission standpoint is, ‘How could we abandon our commitment to the screening work done by Planned Parenthood?'” But the Komen board made the decision despite the recommendation of the organization’s professional staff to keep funding Planned Parenthood.

They’ve been thinking about this decision for a year.

The PR firm they hired to “monitor media, support speaker programs, and provide issues counsel” is very experienced.

Had they been asked, when they were hired, to provide counsel on what could happen if they decided to defund Planned Parenthood, they would have held several meetings in which they would play out every, single consequence that could be created by a decision like this. They would advise on several different options (perhaps slowly taking away the funding?). And they would have experience with the social web and knowing what would trigger an uproar. A year is plenty of time to manage the messaging and hold a crisis at bay.

People make mistakes. We’re all human beings. But looping in you PR counsel after hundreds, if not thousands, of people are commenting on your Facebook wall and YouTube channel (which you’re deleting) and every major news outlet is writing about you is a very, very bad idea.

In fact, if they’d brought in their PR counsel on this policy change, they would have had a strategy around their decision, they would have had their messaging set (instead of changing it at least three times in three days), and they would not have had to reverse the plan because of public outcry.

This was all completely avoidable.

Good PR counsel and a crisis management plan is like insurance…you have to have it.

In the past, a decision like this would have created some protests, but Susan G. Komen would have been able to control it. Today, that’s not an option. The social web provides people a bullhorn and they use it.

You can no longer pretend you won’t be affected by upset stakeholders. You are no longer in control. Your customers control everything, from your brand to who buys from you.

Be prepared. Get yourself crisis insurance with an experienced PR firm or professional.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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124 responses to “Komen Provides Excellent Crisis Management Case Study”

  1. cubanalaf says:

    I was pretty vocal about this last week… Big surprise. The decision wasn’t reversed technically… Just PP can apply for grants again. That is a pretty big loophole if you think about it.

    Yes, PR counsel is important…. But just because a statement is created doesn’t mean it needs to be altered at any point. Situations change, as well as resources. Legal comes into play as well – consumers don’t always realize it, but there is many instances where the canned response has to happen and doesn’t provide all information.

    What I would have liked to see is the creation of “Facebook House Rules” and SGK not getting defensive with how they were blasted. They were smart to change their page view to Posts Only – lots of data around that actually decreasing negative and increasing engagement.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @cubanalaf Totally agree. If you’re going to make a decision, know why you’re doing it and stick with it. If you’re going to delete Facebook and YouTube comments, have a policy UP FRONT that says which ones you leave and which ones you delete. You should have sets of messaging for every situation…something they clearly did not have. I think people would have been fine with the canned message, if it had stayed the same canned message. They figured it out pretty quickly, but it could have all been avoided had they brought in their PR firm before, not after, all of this.

  2. […] case is a text-book example of social media marketing at its finest. It’s also an example of an organization that […]

  3. rwohlner says:

    @ginidietrich sad that such a worthy goal has to become involved in the political slime that engulfs this country

  4. This sounds like a culture problem at the SGK management/board level. They hire people for the specific purpose to be the experts in public relations and advise them how to handle situations decisions for the organization. If managements continue to think this way, it will only be their faults when bad things happen.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @Anthony_Rodriguez I don’t know for a fact they didn’t bring in their crisis/issues firm on all of this, nor if they did, that they listened to their counsel. But what I do know is, you’re right. If they don’t run the organization as an integrated one, these things will happen.

  5. FollowtheLawyer says:

    Another important PR/crisis management aspect to this story is that Komen did not consider who they were going up against. Planned Parenthood is on a permanent war time footing PR-wise. They responded to the situation with breakneck speed, clear messaging and efficient mobilization of influencers. Because of Komen’s myopia, Planned Parenthood not only cleaned Komen’s clock, but also benefited materially and reputationally (e.g. reframing Planned Parenthood’s defining issue from abortion to poor women’s access to healthcare).

  6. Came over to get the link from last week to add to my today post on this topic (again), and I see you’re (again) writing about it, too. You’re right; this is hot textbook fodder. Thanks for diving in deeper to present more sides of the situation and stick up for PR on this one.

    PR is still going to take some heat b/c few will dive in as in-depth as you have.

    Meanwhile, I don’t think this issue is dead. Didn’t some of those board members resign from Komen? Thought I heard that. Regardless, if there’s a time period for completion of funding PP, that’s when this may rise again.

  7. tslomawilliams says:

    @kmueller62 @ginidietrich Komen provides a case study in cowardice

  8. lauraclick says:

    Great analysis, Gini. It’s amazing to me how companies fail to realize that it’s imperative to loop in your PR folks (staff or firm) from the beginning. Crisis communication is just as much planning as it is damage control.

    When I was working in-house PR, I was always frustrated when I found out about issues AFTER the fact. I felt like the clean-up crew. I often lamented how much easier it would have been to have been part of the decision-making process instead of being called in to clean up the mess after the fact. At that point, there’s only so much you can do.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @lauraclick Very good point. It is frustrating when they bring you in after the fact. What do you think of @Doug_Davidoff comment regarding it being partly our fault because we haven’t earned a seat at the table?

      • lauraclick says:

        @ginidietrich @Doug_Davidoff I think David’s comment is tough to swallow, but he’s probably right in some instances. PR Pros need to do a much better job of conveying the value of being part of the conversation early on.

        But, I don’t think it’s entirely our fault either. No matter how good some PR folks are, there are some businesses who just won’t listen to counsel or integrate PR into their planning. Changing that culture can be difficult, if not impossible.

        • ginidietrich says:

          @lauraclick I agree. I also think, in some cases, it’s a function of not being there every day. I’d like to think our clients would bring us in on something like this, early on. But maybe not because we’re not there every day to say, “Wait a second. We should know about this.”

  9. My takeaway from this is have to have the courage of your convictions.

    The folly of this crisis (in my eyes) was not necessarily created by the decision, but by the trumped up reason they gave for making the decision.

    Had they said : We’re a private org and we refuse to support organizations that fund abortions, they would have placed themselves in a stronger position. The outcry would have been larger, but they would not have needed to waffle or equivocate.

    Of course, I could be wrong. It’s been known to happen. 😉

    • FollowtheLawyer says:

      Which convictions, the organization’s public ones or the board’s private ones? Given the resignations of prominent professional staff and the opposition by state chapters, the flimsiness of the rationale was only an aggravating factor. The outrage stemmed largely from the perception of an abrupt and significant mission shift for the organization, so I’m not persuaded that a forthright “we can do whatever we want” anti-abortion statement would have been helpful.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @Sean McGinnis TOTALLY AGREE (which I really hate). I think a really good crisis plan for the defunding of PP would have made them look at every scenario and they would have been ready with messaging for all criticism. By being that ready, they would have know what to say and how to say it without having to change their messaging three times in three days or back down. If you want to do this, know why you’re doing it and be prepared to face the criticism.

      • MimiMeredith says:

        @ginidietrich@Sean McGinnis I agree AND (I learned that clever technique from Gini) I also think it’s important to fold @FollowtheLawyer ‘s position in. The strategy they use to determine and defend is hardly as important as remembering why, which is what we call mission-based leadership. No amount of messaging before or after such an event can overcome the credibility lost when an organization lets any one new thing–whether a threat or an opportunity–deter it from its mission. Good pr doesn’t make up for bad deeds.

        • ginidietrich says:

          @MimiMeredith @Sean McGinnis @FollowtheLawyer Agree with that, as well, They seem to have lost their way. If there truly are no politics behind their decision, it’s pretty easy to say, “Hey, we’re doing it for this reason and we’re sticking by it because it fits the mission of allowing us to work with other organizations that provide on-site mammograms” or whatever it happens to be. It’s the waffling between several different messages and not really knowing which end is up that is the problem. It sure looks like it was a politically-driven decision. Which is fine. Just be prepared to answer to it instead of going on national television and look like you’re lying because you’re so uncomfortable.

        • jenzings says:

          @MimiMeredith @ginidietrich @Sean McGinnis @FollowtheLawyer The loss of mission/losing their way will continue to play out. An interesting write-up about what appears to be a switch in positions on stem cell research is on Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/komen-stem-cell-research

          I think this will be the story that keeps unfolding. SGK has a lot of work to do to restore trust.

  10. John_Trader1 says:

    It will be interesting to monitor and study the impact that this could perhaps have on the potential overall effect on donations and funding for breast cancer research moving forward. I continue to be amazed at the missteps that organizations like SGK make (particularly the deletion of comments from their FB page) in the wake of so many other examples in front of their faces of how not to handle a crisis. SGK could take a cue from Apple whose crisis communications team sprang into action and launched a positive PR campaign after the recent backlash following their earnings report about the Chinese labor conditions at the factories which make Apple products.

    • cubanalaf says:

      @John_Trader1 I don’t understand why deleting comments is bad…. IF you have house rules/TOS in place. Foul language, defamation, derogatory comments…. All of this can impact the brand. I don’t think it’s a misstep if they are open about their rules. A big ol FUCK YOU type comment isn’t productive or helps them shift their thinking.

      • John_Trader1 says:

        @cubanalaf I should have clarified that deleting “negative” comments is bad from the context of the discussion from last week’s post on the same topic (see 02/02 post). I think its common sense for an organization to delete comments that use foul language and defamation – isn’t it? As for derogatory comments, I’m not so sure that they fall under that same category.

      • jenzings says:

        @cubanalaf@John_Trader1 From what I understand, they were deleting anything critical, which is not the same as deleting content that is foul/abusive/derogatory. Ask @ginidietrich –I believe they deleted her comments, and I can’t imagine she was anything but polite and very civil.

        • John_Trader1 says:

          @jenzings @cubanalaf @ginidietrich Thanks for the feedback Jen. I was trying to point out that, in my opinion, it seems like a fine line between a “derogatory” and a “negative” comment and I can see organizations may struggle with this. Outside of foul and defamatory language, how do you decide which comments constitute acceptable negativity vs. derogatory interpretations? Can a comment be both negative and derogatory and still be acceptable? Seems like it would be tough to interpret this.

          They deleted Gini’s comment? That’s tantamount to social media stupidity in the first degree.

        • ginidietrich says:

          @John_Trader1 @jenzings@cubanalaf They did delete my comment. And that of nine other friends. And you know me…I didn’t say anything foul or derogatory. I was critical, but professional.

  11. Doug_Davidoff says:

    At the risk of being provocative (and you know how I hate being that), who’s fault is this? Is it’s Komen’s for failing to bring their PR firm into the discussions early enough, or is it their PR firms for failing to have earned “a set at the table” to be involved in conversations BEFORE it was thought to be a PR issue?

    My experience is that far, far, far too often PR folks (of all shapes and sizes) serve tactically and don’t provide the type of counsel needed when things aren’t in crisis to earn the role to prevent crisis. I do not mean to convict all providers (just most).

    I also don’t mean to discount the point you make here. It’s instructive to companies that they should be using their advisors better (or replace them if they can step up), and it’s instructive to PR firms and professionals – they shouldn’t wait for the crisis either.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @Doug_Davidoff I think, in this case, it’s the fault of Komen because they wouldn’t even listen to their senior staff, who is quitting by the truckload. I do agree some PR firms fail to earn the seat at the table (though we’re seeing some of that shift as more and more pros learn how to measure their results and show real ROI), but I don’t think they were even given the opportunity to be at the kid’s table. I don’t know that for fact, but I’d like to believe a big agency with such a good reputation didn’t counsel them to make the messaging and strategy mistakes they made last week.

      • Doug_Davidoff says:

        @ginidietrich Obviously I have no idea what happened inside this case. Two experiences to share. First, I’ve seen high level internal marketing executives who haven’t earned a seat at the table because they can’t stop being reactive in everything they do. Even when they speak about results and impact, it’s always a reaction to something else.

        You earn a seat at the table when you proactively impact the larger conversation. You bring more to the (well) table than just your subject matter expertise. You get and speak to the bigger picture.

        I’ve learned that if you wait for the client to come to you (which is happens with even the biggest firms) executives will screw things up. If they understood the PR/communication impact of their decisions – they’d be PR/communication executives. What’s Murphy’s Law? If a client can screw something up…well, you get the picture.

        I think a big piece of the problem is the underlying economic model that drives most communication firms, but I digress.

        • ginidietrich says:

          @Doug_Davidoff You know you and I agree on this. Sometimes you have to say, “Whoa! Wait a second. We need to be brought up to speed on this right now.” Not everyone is confident enough to do that, either.

        • Doug_Davidoff says:

          @ginidietrich @Doug_Davidoff Well said.

  12. Quintain says:

    Thanks Gini for this really interesting breakdown of the Komen/Planned Parenthood situation. I find it fascinating that they share the same crisis management agency. Talk about needing some internal agency firewalls!

  13. KensViews says:

    @ginidietrich I agree with most of the points in this post, but I’m confused by one: :”and they would not have had to reverse the plan because of public outcry.” Are you saying that they wouldn’t have had to reverse course, that with PR’s involvement from the get-go they could have weathered the storm and stood by their decision not to fund Planned Parenthood for mammograms, or they never would have made this policy change in the first place?

    • Shonali says:

      @KensViews @ginidietrich To me it’s a couple of things. One, they would have had the right counsel ahead of time (and they may have, we don’t know whether they did or didn’t, at least *I* don’t know). But more important is what the fundamental reason for changing this policy was: was it to keep a certain segment of supporters/donors happy, to stay true to their mission (as they kept saying), or… what exactly?

      To me, one of the big lessons that I hope organizations learn is to be upfront from the start about why they’re taking a certain stance, and tell why they believe that is the right thing to do. People may/may not like it, but at least you are saying the same thing when you’re asked about it over and over again. Otherwise you’ve got this horrid, flip-flopping mess, and credibility is greatly damaged.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @KensViews I think, if they’d listened to the advice of their senior staff and brought in their PR firm for counsel, they may very well have made the decision, but they would have stood behind it. They would have had messaging to support their case and they would have stuck up for their convictions. It’s very easy for all of us to sit on this side of things and be armchair QBs because we’re not in the room and we’re not part of the strategy discussions. But if they don’t even know what their strategy is, it makes it harder for people to believe anything they say and do.

      • KensViews says:

        @ginidietrich We might need to agree to disagree on this one.(Friends do that, right?) I know you wanted to keep the politics out of it, but in my view, the original decision was based on the political view of the new SVP, and they didn’t consider the impact it would have on a number of their key publics and stakeholders, and the fact that this decision would make it harder for women to get mammograms. That would seem to violate their mission. One would hope that good PR counsel, whether internal or external, would advise against that. And I believe it was that political decision that now makes it so difficult for many of their their supporters/now former supporters to believe what they say. I think the hit to their credibility and reputation will be long-term and that saddens me, in light of all the good they’d done heretofore.

        • ginidietrich says:

          @KensViews Even if it was politically-driven, you can have messaging for that. But you have to own it. Yes, we no longer support pro-choice organizations and stand up to the criticism. I absolutely think a good crisis messaging platform will do that…even if you don’t agree with the reasoning.

        • KensViews says:

          @ginidietrich I think if a non-profit’s going to make a political decision, don’t claim it’s something else. And make sure that a clear majority of your stakeholders, audiences and influencers agree with it. Better yet, keep your politics our of it and keep to the mission!

        • ginidietrich says:

          @KensViews I agree with that wholeheartedly. That brings me back to the original point. An experienced crisis firm, if brought in on this, would have made that point and introduced messaging to help them stick to their decision.

        • KensViews says:

          @ginidietrich They could have stuck to the same decision, which was to support the political views of their newest high-level exec that was out of sync with their mission and, apparently, the political views of the majority of their supporters. But I believe the result would have been the same: a shot-in-the-arm in fundraising to the organization they had proposed de-funding, her resignation, and a long-term hit to their reputation. Unless you meant that the PR firm would have advised them to keep out of politics and go back to the mission of helping prevent, and treat, breast cancer. And now to the tuly important point. Here’s an additional birthday present that ken mueller and I will be sending you on Friday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWZT-r3bUZ4

  14. MimiMeredith says:

    Gini, I like the idea of pulling in your PR firm early on. Why make the investment otherwise. But honestly, I think a board that failed to listen to veteran staff members is not likely to listen to a PR firm either. So many missteps all along the way in this that make one wonder who is really in charge and how decisions are made. I’m grateful this decision was reversed, but, as a donor, I have significant doubts that can only be erased with a lot more disclosure about how it was made and what is happening to insure it won’t happen again.

    • Shonali says:

      @MimiMeredith I agree. From all we’ve heard, there was fierce internal debate over this new “policy,” yet the board went ahead regardless. If they’re not going to listen to senior executives internally, they’re not very likely to listen to their PR counsel… even if the PR agency is begging and pleading with them to do so.

      • MimiMeredith says:

        @Shonali Exactly. I think very few boards, especially high profile ones like this, understand what it means to have true mission alignment. The good thing is, this has made me stop to think about my own giving. I know of many outstanding groups that serve the needs of cancer research and women’s health. I don’t need Komen to determine how to spend my contribution dollars. No amount of public relations strategy is going to take away that new awareness.

        • Shonali says:

          @MimiMeredith There was a nice post mdbarber wrote last week on smart giving choices – worth a read, because we all need to be reminded that we can choose which organizations to support, and don’t just have to go with the biggest/most obvious choices.

        • MimiMeredith says:

          @Shonali mdbarber I will read it! I absolutely agree with that premise and with mindful giving. One of the nice outcomes of situations like the Komen/PP issue is that it reminds me to stop and think!

        • mdbarber says:

          @Shonali Thanks for mentioning my post, and to @MimiMeredith for checking it out and commenting. We often forget we need to do some of our own checking before giving. It’s sad but true.

      • ginidietrich says:

        @Shonali @MimiMeredith I suppose you’re right. So, in that case then, do you invite SGK in and say, “We also work with Planned Parenthood and it’s time for us to part ways?” Or do you (as the AdAge article suggests) say you’ve put up firewalls and continue to work with both? If SGK weren’t listening to us, I’d use the conflict as the reason to get out of working with them any longer.

  15. sydcon_mktg says:

    I am no PR person, but it appears based on this new article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/05/karen-handel-susan-g-komen-decision-defund-planned-parenthood_n_1255948.html that things are going to get worse. There are emails that prove Karen Handel targeted PP. The plans to defund were presented in November and approved in December. The day it was approved Mollie Williams, a top public health official resigned on the spot from Komen.

    So, it appears there is a smoking gun around, how long before those emails are made public?

    • @sydcon_mktg When it rains, it pours, I guess. What a mess that will be teach many PR folks for years to come.

    • @sydcon_mktg When it rains, it pours, I guess. What a mess that will be teaching many PR folks for years to come.

    • jenzings says:

      @sydcon_mktg It’s just a hunch/theory of mine, but I think that Handel would someday like to go back to elective politics (she was Secretary of State and ran for Gov. in Georgia I believe). Long-term, politically, it would have been a feather in her cap to say, years later, that she drove this decision. It’s entirely possible that the fallout from this–for her, if she wants to eventually re-enter politics–might actually work in her favor.

  16. PIVOTpr says:

    Komen Provides Excellent Crisis Management Case Study by @ginidietrich http://t.co/YYA01KbK via @Steveology

  17. KirkHazlett says:

    @jbrandi311 Excellent idea! Thanks! I’ll send a note to everyone this afternoon.

  18. JohnKinATL says:

    @ginidietrich Nice article on crisis comms.

  19. KirkHazlett says:

    This episode definitely underscores the vital need for an awareness of and an understanding of public opinion…and the equally vital need for senior management to turn to and rely on public relations counsel when planning anything that might impact the organization’s stakeholders. Especially today, with the already-proven power of social media to activate and agitate publics, organizational leaders have no choice but to “be sure brain is in gear before putting mouth into motion.”

    I think all of us in the public relations profession have learned something from this incident that we will carry with us into the workplace or the classroom as an example of how NOT to communicate.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @KirkHazlett What a great place this Internet is, isn’t it? We learn all sorts of things about how we’ll counsel clients without having to learn the hard lessons ourselves.

  20. @ginidietrich I saw that your Crain’s article on this very subject was pulled into PRSA’s Monday email. Nice job.

  21. SmokinHotPR says:

    @ginidietrich I totally agree about “Good PR counsel and a crisis management plan is like insurance…you have to have it.” Thanks!~

  22. minutrition says:

    @ginidietrich from Marketoonist.com http://t.co/1RBoxVk8

  23. Tinu says:

    Another major thing I thought was missing was communication directly with the people who would care about the decision. You can sometimes avert a tidal wave of disapproval with conversation – maybe only into a simmering brow-furrow, but also perhaps avoiding the crisis altogether just by knowing the imminent attention wouldn’t be worth whatever end they were attempting to reach.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @Tinu Yes! I received an email from our chapter yesterday. YESTERDAY. And Arizona sent theirs on Thursday. A little too late. There is so much that could have been done to avoid all of this. They, apparently though, have no desire to listen to their executives or their PR counsel. It’s too bad.

  24. ginidietrich says:

    @Steveology What’s for dinner?

  25. ginidietrich says:

    @ifdyperez Could you make me a unicorn dust sammich?

  26. ginidietrich says:

    @Samjb That’s nice of you to share the post with your class. Thank you!

  27. ginidietrich says:

    @desertronin Thank you!

  28. lpiotto says:

    @ginidietrich – Sad that the Board rejected the reco of pro staff. Shouldn’t need an agency to say the same thing to make it credible, WADR

  29. Elaine_Fogel says:

    Gini, I’m so glad I saw this post today. As a specialist in nonprofit marketing and communications, I’ve been following the story closely. But, this new information about Komen’s board making the decision against the advice of its senior management team is very disturbing.

    Nonprofit boards of director are here today and gone tomorrow. They usually serve finite terms, volunteering their time. Some meet monthly; some quarterly, but it is the senior management team that must manage operations on a daily basis.

    Even though the board had the right to make the decision they did, they acted irresponsibly – in a vacuum. If each member had thorough training in public relations and branding, then the board could have made the decision based on sound experience and expertise. But, boards are typically comprised of diverse groups of people. To do what they did without adequate consultation and guidance was short-sighted and foolish. The Komen brand will be feeling the fallout for a long time. The board should resign.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @Elaine_Fogel It’d be interesting to find out if the SGK board is paid and fully functional like, say, the Apple board. Or if it’s run like most nonprofits….as you say, here today and gone tomorrow. I have a friend who runs a nonprofit and she is the decision maker. Yes, she needs to discuss strategy changes with the board, but she and her team make the decisions. It seems odd their board would have this much control. Maybe it’s because Brinker is chairman? I don’t know. But, you’re right, this is going to hurt them for a long time. It’ll be interesting to look at it a year from now and see how much it hurt them.

      • Elaine_Fogel says:

        @ginidietrich Gini, most 501(c)(3) organizations operate with volunteer boards who ideally make all decisions related to strategy, budgets, and finances. They oversee the executive director/CEO, hold him/her accountable to performance expectations, and have the right to hire and fire that person.The executive director/CEO oversees the senior management team, and together, they are responsible for all operations.

        It is a fine balancing act that requires mutual respect and a shared belief for the mission. A nonprofit executive who makes major decisions single-handedly = an unhealthy situation. Similarly, a board that micro-manages operations = an unhealthy organization, unless the organization is very small or in start-up mode.

        Corporate boards, in which members receive a stipend, have an obligation to the company for that money. There are expectations about being available for board meetings and performing their duties. Nonprofits have similar expectations of board members, but because they are volunteers, whose jobs and families come first, their participation and time commitment may not always be ideal. In fact, many nonprofits have well-known people on their boards for their “names” and do not always expect them to be engaged. They do expect them to raise money from their friends and use their influence.

        Another interesting point… many nonprofits have a financial expectation of their board members to make a donation. Some require members to “give or get” a specific dollar amount. So, they don’t get paid – they pay for the privilege to serve the nonprofit.

        Hope that clarifies the difference between nonprofit and corporate boards.

  30. HowieSPM says:

    There is also a case study for the PR Agencies. As the crisis agency you would think they would ask straight up is this political (it was and was outed on Huff Post yesterday). Second you ask is there any email proof of this being political (also outed by Huff Post).

    Not sure if I knew this was political and email proof existed I would do anything that advised lying about the situation. And Komen did lie. What are your thoughts Miss Gini?

    • ginidietrich says:

      @HowieSPM Maybe they did…when they were brought into this particular issue last week. If they were brought in at the same time the senior leaders were having this discussion a year ago, they would have asked all of these questions. They would have played out every scenario. They would have been prepared with the right messaging. Even if it were political, they would have said, “We are doing this because we only support pro-life organizations.” It still would have created an outcry, but it wouldn’t have gone on for days because they were straight about it and never lied.

  31. pollomaldonado says:

    @ARPPR Lección 1: Practice what you preach, as simple as that.

  32. nativiris says:

    @lahomar Lo leí. Muy bueno. Una crisis que pudo manejarse. Con los medios sociales es un deber estar preparados.

  33. ConsultaConJCB says:

    @lahomar @jacintamarin gracias!

  34. SRodriguezCotto says:

    @lahomar @ginidietrich @consultaconjcb gracias

  35. lindseychester says:

    @bmcd67 in what not to do

  36. […] case is a text-book example of social media marketing at its finest. It’s also an example of an organization that […]

  37. […] Gini Dietrich, as always, had a good take on it. So did Shonali Burke and Mike Shaffer. And a former colleague who’s back in the blogging business Michael Parks had a great recap of the whole series of events before suggesting key takeaways. […]

  38. […] week around the web with lessons about good and not-so-good communications.  Gini mentions the blog post she wrote about the Susan G. Komen Foundation and how its decision to unplug their funding from […]

  39. […] around the web with lessons about good and not-so-good communications.  Gini mentions the blog post she wrote about the Susan G. Komen Foundation and how its decision to unplug their funding […]

  40. […] from anti-abortion forces, sparking a torrid Internet debate."   After reading a blog post by Gini Dietrich of SpinSucks, I discovered that the Komen board of directors were solely […]

  41. maragarettate says:

    Loved the post. Social media has really made it so easy to raise an opinion. And before these organizations realize, their insensible statements will be adding to their mistake.

  42. […] recently, the public outcry over the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s anti-Planned Parenthood stance created a unified voice for the undoing of social injustice.  Yet, the call for Mars, Inc. […]

  43. […] ended up reversing the decision, but the damage was already done. Top executives began to leave, volunteers turn their attention […]

  44. […] ended up reversing the decision, but the damage was already done. Top executives began to leave, volunteers turn their attention […]

  45. […] the marketer can build a working contingency plan: A way to quietly or quickly roll things back to minimize the damage (or a plan for a new message […]

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