Monday, February 6, 2012

Screwed: Komen’s Pooch


Maybe M.I.A.’s flipping America the bird during Super Bowl halftime festivities will be enough to make folks forget the Susan B. Komen For The Cure’s massive screw up over de-partnering then re-partnering with Planned Parenthood last week.

I doubt it will be that easy.

The Foundation first announced via an Associated Press story that it would no longer provide funding, based on its new funding criteria, to organizations that are under investigation. Planned Parenthood provides breast examinations and related care to thousands of women unable to afford health care but is under investigation by an anti-abortion Florida congressman.

The Foundation got blasted in the media, by elected officials and on social media networks and, by week’s end, apologized to its donors, reversed its decision and reinstated funding to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, for its part, received nearly three times in donations the amount of funding it would have lost.

What in the world was going through the skulls at Susan B. Komen For The Cure? Did their PR people advise them that something like a news release to the wire service would allow the Foundation to fly under the radar of public perception and opinion? Do people who give stupid advice and take stupid advice like this still have jobs at the Foundation?

"Komen has lost touch over the years and just become increasingly insulated and out of touch from the people on the front lines, the people who donate and walk and participate in their fundraisers," says Women with Cancer blogger Jody Schoger.

Where should this rate on the Screw the Pooch scale of PR debacles?

Above or below Netflix hitting the rewind button after customers cried foul on plans to split up its DVD rentals and streaming services, effectively doubling customer monthly fees?

Above or below Bank of America becoming one of Occupy Wall Street’s poster villains before retracting plans to charge $5 monthly fees for all debit-card users?

Above or below Mitt Romney finally showing that he makes more than $56,000 a day without working?

It’s wise, they say, never to overestimate people’s knowledge of the facts nor to underestimate people’s intelligence. I certainly hope so.

--Mike Sato

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