Susan G. Komen's Public Relations Nightmare

Illustration for article titled Susan G. Komen's Public Relations Nightmare

You know who I don't envy right now? People responsible for Susan G. Komen for the Cure's public relations. Since the charity's transparently political and poorly received decision to defund Planned Parenthood, Komen supporters have not hesitated to express their displeasure. Just how giant is the pink, ribbon-shaped shit that the foundation has taken on its reputation? Let's find out.


They've certainly angered some partners who are upset with Komen's added caveat to their "pro-woman" stance (new policy: pro-some-women). The American Association of University Women was one of the first to announce that they were severing ties, saying in a news release from this morning that they will not offer the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure as possible pre-conference community service option in the lead up to their National Conference for College Women Student Leders. Their reasoning? Komen's playing politics, and AAUW isn't buying it.

Komen's own in-house message board is full of disappointed donors who are pledging their support to Planned Parenthood instead of Komen.

But Susan G. Komen for the Cure hasn't just pissed off individuals, they've also rubbed government officials the wrong way. California state senators Noreen Evans, chair of the Legislative Women's Caucus, said the move "defies logic" and has announced that the body will not be holding it's annual bake sale to support Susan G. Komen For The Cure this year. Democratic State Senator Alex Padilla of Los Angeles announced that he'll no longer be sporting pink ties as a nod to Komen. He said,

Komen has placed its supporters in the untenable position of aligning themselves with acquiescence to the agenda of the religious right, or aligning themselves with healthcare and breast cancer organizations that will not bow to such pressures. The choice is clear to me. I choose the latter.

Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum has sharply criticized Komen's swing to the right by accusing them of blatant pandering, and Virginia Congressman Jim Moran has also urged Komen to banish politics from their funding decisions.

Two dozen US Senators have echoed the disappointment of Padilla, Evans, Moran, and McCollum, preparing a letter to Komen leadership that points out that Komen funds helped provide 170,000 clinical breast exams to Planned Parenthood patients, and 6,400 mammogram referrals.


Komen's obvious pander/lying has even pissed off the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, both of whom served as honorary chairs of the foundation in 2010. Jill tweeted, "When Joe heard about Susan G. Komen not funding Planned Parenthood anymore, Joe thew away his pink-ribbon Harvest Peach yogurt." Ouch, Komen. You've got people so mad now they're throwing away delicious yogurt. [Update: They've pissed off whoever is running Fake Dr. Jill Biden's Twitter account. It was an imposter! Regardless, the tragedy of yogurt disposal stands.]

The dent Komen's boneheaded move will put in their donations is yet to be seen, and even less likely to be spun with anything but sunny positives when and if we find out that the waterfall of money has been reduced to a money dribble. But what I can tell you is that this negative PR for Komen continues to have the opposite effect on Planned Parenthood.


A media representative for the organization told me today that support keeps rolling into Planned Parenthood— in the second 24 hour span since it was announced that Komen funding would be withdrawn, more than 9,000 individual donors have donated online (in a normal 24-hour period, it's about 100 people. A ninety fold increase. Thanks, Karen Handel!). More than 4,000 people have begun following Planned Parenthood on Twitter, and more than 10,000 people have "liked" their Facebook page. Additionally, more than 119,000 people have signed the family planning organization's letter of support in the last 24 hours. Holy anti-choice backfire, Batman!

Read More:


Meet the Komen Exec Behind the Planned Parenthood Defunding

Susan G. Komen is trying to prove it didn't stop giving grants to Planned Parenthood because of a right wing political agenda. More »



Top Komen Official Threatens to Resign Over Charity's Pandering, Lying

A member of Susan G. Komen For The Cure's Medical Advisory Board has threatened to resign. More »



Breast-Cancer Survivor Andrea Mitchell Takes Komen CEO to Task

Today, Susan B. Komen CEO Nancy Brinker stopped by Andrea Mitchell Reports to defend her organization's decision. More »



How the Susan G. Komen Foundation Lost Its Way

Before Susan G. Komen died of breast cancer in 1980, she asked her sister Nancy to promise to work towards finding a cure. More »


All of little non-profit PR self is just DYING. I said it on another post, but WHERE was their communications person/people? At so many points during this debacle they needed someone to say HOLD UP...When the decision was made, when they wrote their rationale on the decision, the video that they made "explaining," the deleting of comments on facebook page, the disabled comments on youtube.

I have only been doing this for six years and I can point out SO many things they could have done to minimize the damage.

So...I'm glad I don't work for them!