Social Media Backlash Against Komen

Not only do companies have to worry about negative blogs and reviews to control during an organizational crisis, but now they have to be prepared to control all sorts of social media outlets as well. Susan G. Komen had trouble with just that as they released information to the public on January 31st saying they will no longer provide Planned Parenthood with funding for mammograms for low-income women for breast cancer screening. Immediately this became a very controversial topic on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Many believe that this decision was made because of political pressure from anti-choice groups. This is exactly what Komen is denying and released a statement after many Komen supporters were posting very negative comments. This statement said that the decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood was not a political move; instead it was because they now have new funding criteria.

Interestingly, Komen and Planned Parenthood had been in contact weeks before this came out to the public. So wouldn’t you think Komen had plenty of time to realize things could get touchy? To make matters worse, Komen started to delete the negative comments on their Facebook page. What Komen did not realize is the political power of social media and many need to learn from this. When the Associated Press reported the news that funding was going to be cut, Planned Parenthood blasted news releases on Twitter and Facebook. Once Komen realized they couldn’t change the public opinion around or even slow down the negativity on social media, they reversed their decision to cut funding.

At a time of crisis in an organization, your message and speed of that message is very important to insure the least amount of damage. Komen was not ready for this backlash of so many people on their social media sites and once they actually responded, it was brief and too defensive. On the other hand, Planned Parenthood prepared for this for weeks before it went to the public and immediately posted to get fans and supporters involved. Some ways they got supporters involved is by asking for donations, sign an online petition, to Tweet or post about it on Facebook, and since then has added over 32,000 fans. Clearly, Komen should have taken a different approach in handling their social media sites and the communication with their avid supporters.

By: Laura Simmons, Mollie Berthold, Christina Stevenson, Dorothy Conley