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The blog, Twitter and Facebook blowback to the Susan G. Komen Foundation's pullback of Planned Parenthood funding hasn't died down yet. Watching this debacle unfold through social media, I was struck by how poorly managed and organized the SGK response was.

Social marketing professional Nedra Weinreich of Weinreich Communications and the Spare Change blog makes some good points to Daily Kos on how this is all playing out on line:

Once the news started to spread and outraged former Komen fans began chiming in across social media, the Komen Foundation's social media silence was deafening. While people beat them up far and wide online, they lost their prime opportunity to make their case and stave off the blood flow.

No matter what they had said, many would have turned against them because of the implication that this new policy was politically motivated in a direction that many who supported the organization disagree with. But there would have also been people -- especially those who invested their time, energy and identity in their support for Komen -- who would look for reasons to continue their support and defend the organization. But by not even posting an explanation on Twitter or Facebook for over 24 hours in response to the uproar, it felt like they were hiding and hoping it would all blow over, not even confident enough to stand up for their decision. Every minute the message "Komen hates poor women" was amplified without any counter-message, it lost more context, and turned into a huge brand implosion.

Twenty four hours or more without any response from Komen undid the organization's lifetime of development of brand goodwill. For it to turn into a "war" between Komen and Planned Parenthood that made many feel like they had to choose sides only hurt Komen. At this point, they will be lucky to salvage any positive feelings toward them by those who are pro-choice and who watched this play out in real time.

Another interesting view of the failure of SGK to anticipate and utilize the internet comes from Netroots Foundation/Netroots Nation's executive director Raven Brooks:
A lot of people have been writing that Komen didn’t have a communications strategy and that was their problem. Well that was one problem. Others include a complete lack of understanding of the Internet, how news spreads during a news cycle, and the temperature of progressive activists after a lot of backsliding on this issue specifically, and more generally with things learned from the ACORN fight. But the biggest issue is they completely changed their mission without even realizing it.
Raven makes some great points in this post, but I have to ask how much of this was deliberate mission changing (i.e deciding to choose conservative donors over pro-choice ones and expecting but being unprepared for the magnitude of the blowback), and how much was complete unanticipated reaction to a political move they committed themselves to make.

Whereas I am always ready to assume incompetence over maliciousness, here's one case where that may not apply. Even so, it may be that it's a case of which kind of incompetence was dominant: expecting but mismanaging fallout, or not anticipating it in the first place.

[Update 2/3/2012]:

Outcry Grows Fiercer After Funding Cut by Cancer Group

The nation’s leading breast cancer advocacy organization confronted the growing furor Thursday over its decision to largely end its decades-long partnership with Planned Parenthood, with rising dissension in its own ranks and a roiling anger on the Internet showing the power of social media to harness protest.

[Update 2/4/2012]: The debate is now about what the apology from Komen means, and what it means for them to have their mask ripped off. You can't inject abortion politics into this as Komen clearly did, and then claim to be a victim of people injecting politics into women's health. Think Progress describes Bush veteran Ari Fleisher's involvement:
Fleischer’s high-level involvement with Komen further complicates its image as an apolitical cancer charity. Fleischer is a prominent partisan commentator and a longtime critic of Planned Parenthood. In his book, Taking Heat, Fleischer criticized Planned Parenthood as a partisan, ideological organization that receives undeserved positive coverage in the press. In 2001, Fleischer said that the Clinton administration verged too far to the left on family planning efforts because “if Planned Parenthood wanted it, the previous administration favored it.”
Please, contribute to Planned Parenthood on Act Blue.

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Originally posted to Greg Dworkin on Thu Feb 02, 2012 at 07:28 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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