The once powerful and influential, but now descendant and waning Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, has, so far, failed to regain either its footing or its value as a corporate partner. I learned, thanks to a tip today from a friend who is a high powered PR executive, that SGKFC appears to be mismanaging the aftermath of its Planned Parenthood blunder just as badly as the organization mishandled the blunder itself, at least insofar as some experts in corporate image management seem to think.
Today the article, Perpetuating the Negative Buzz explored the image strategies that SGKFC has pursued since the resignation of Karen Handel in early February. The hullabaloo around dKos about Komen pretty much died out after that happened and SGKFC allegedly reversed its defunding of the PPH grant.
At that point, Komen violated the First Rule of Holes: If it is a problem that you are in one, stop digging. Instead, Komen hired Mark Penn. They could have undertaken the tried and true strategies used by sincere people and organizations who regret their mistakes. Instead, Komen hired Mark Penn.
In 2008, Mark Penn was quite a celebrity around dKos. As in Mark Penn's lobbying shop is headed by John McCain's top adviser, and How Mark Penn Drove The Clinton Bus Into The Ditch, and, my favorite, Mark Penn advised Hillary to portray Obama as foreign. Yeah, that Mark Penn.
Penn's Frank Luntz like strategy for getting SGKFC out of its hole is to use focus groups to study how to apologize about what happened, as if it doesn't matter how you really feel, so long as you talk about it the right way. Here are the money quotes from the article:
So what is the strategy? Conducting a survey to gauge public sentiment, which misses the mark, some experts say.Komen continues to make all the wrong decisions for all the wrong reasons. Like the Congress, the organization is in the grip of ideologues who eschew all realities that fail to conform to their preconceived views. That is a proven approach to highly destructive outcomes.
It asks survey participants to rate the merit of statements such as, "Susan G. Komen is letting left-wing liberals dictate its internal policy decisions," and, "Susan G. Komen's decision to de-fund Planned Parenthood was particularly harmful to young and low-income women."
It also asks those being surveyed to rate various apologies.
Last I checked, apologies should come from the heart, not from a survey. In essence, it's saying, "What do you want to hear?" and not, "This is what really happened," or, "This is how we really feel."
What should Komen be doing?
It should be talking proactively as well as responding to the continued negative remarks being tossed at and about them.
It should address the issues head on, from the heart (not a survey), on their website as well as in social media.