When Good Nonprofits Have to Deal with Bad Press
As a PR professional, I often ask myself what I would have done in Leslie Aun’s shoes. Leslie Aun is the PR spokesperson for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She has been on the frontlines of a media crisis in regards to the battle between the Susa. G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood. Although Planned Parenthood may be a more controversial organization than the Susan G. Komen Foundation, they are both organizations with an ultimate goal of improving the lives and health of people (especially women).
Just 4 months ago, Komen, known for successfully raising funds in the fight against Breast Cancer, decided that they would pull their funding for breast cancer screening from Planned Parenthood. Following a massive public backlash, The Huffington Post reported that Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker apologized to the family planning organization and said Komen will preserve its eligibility for future grants.
So what’s the big deal? The problem is; the damage is already done. Whether intentional or not, Susan G. Komen has made a statement, political or not, it is still a statement. The organization lost many supporters over the past few months and put a blip on what was an untarnished nonprofit brand.
Which leads me back to “what would Aun do?” According to Mark Hrywna at the NonProfit Times, she has finally made a decision to leave the Susan G. Komen Foundation to pursue other endeavors. Aun joins several other executives who have left since the crisis hit the organization.
Having the ability to handle crisis management is engrained in what PR professionals do, but when you work for a nonprofit, the need for crisis management doesn’t arise quite as often. Unless you work at a nonprofit with misappropriated funds, you don’t see much in the way of bad press.
What do you think about these two powerful nonprofit brands having to face off? Was it political? Was it financial? There is much heat behind this conversation. We have personally worked with both organizations and know the greatness of them both. We would love to know what you think.