It began quietly with a news release in early 2012 announcing the loss of funding for a mammography program. The Susan G. Komen
foundation, the internationally known
breast cancer awareness and research
organization, was withdrawing a
grant of US$487,000 from Planned
Parenthood, an international repro
ductive health care organization. The
announcement quickly morphed into
a massive social media firestorm.
Within 24 hours, Planned Parent
hood had raised US$400,000 to cover
the loss of the grant. Within 72 hours,
it had raised US$3 million. Mean
while, Komen reversed its decision,
and a week later the Komen vice pres
ident considered responsible resigned.
The effect on Komen’s reputation
has been significant. Two years later,
the organization has lost senior staff,
expert advisers, donors and directors.
It has also lost community support
worldwide as donations have been sig
nificantly reduced, particularly those
funds raised through its signature
event, Race for the Cure.
The lessons learned from Komen’s
reputational crisis are important to
corporate and nonprofit organizations
alike. The primary lesson: A reputation
management plan must be in place
to anticipate, mitigate and repair
threats to reputation.
For communicators, the first step is
to consider what reputation manage
ment means for their organization.
While a significant challenge to a
company’s reputation is considered a
crisis, building a reputation manage
ment plan allows communicators to
protect as well as shape a company’s
brand in a positive, proactive manner.
The loss of reputation for any orga
nization means the loss of confidence,
trust and belief in its capacity to do
what it promised its stakeholders it
would do. Even if it is not at fault,
how the organization responds to a
crisis of reputation affects how people
view its work.
In their article “The Eye of the
Beholder: Managing Reputation Risk,”
Carlye Christianson and Melanie Lock
wood Herman, both of the Nonprofit
Risk Management Center, write, “Rep
utation is what gives credibility, depth,
sanctuary and confidence in what we
do.” Reputation management is about
demonstrating that the company knows
how to fulfill its mandate through ethi
cal and responsible behaviors.
Crafting a reputation
There are two critical components to
consider when developing a reputation
reputation matters by martha muzychka, abc
Armed with a reputation management plan, you’ll be ready
to mount a solid defense when an attack occurs
Still feeling the effects
of a funding fiasco two
years ago, the Susan G.
Komen foundation is a
case in point for having
a solid reputation