A Different Spin on the Komen Debacle: The Power of Rapid ResponsePosted by Jennifer Hoppe under Interactive Marketing , Social Media , Web Strategy
Over the past week, there’s been a lot of digital ink spilled over Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, and its swift about face.
Taking the politics out of the situation, Komen has provided a textbook example of how to severely—and possibly irrevocably—damage your brand. Its bungling of the original announcement, its initial silence (while Planned Parenthood went on a PR/social media offensive), its feeble attempt to reframe its policy decision, and finally its sheepish reversal, had the cumulative effect of tarnishing its image as a non-partisan advocate for women’s health and angering supporters on both sides of the issue.
But rather than piling on about the mistakes made by Komen, we wanted to focus on an organization that did all the right things last week in terms of messaging, outreach, and brand positioning: The Ms. Foundation for Women. This high-visibility non-profit organization took swift and immediate action to address the situation in a way that promoted their organizational goals and advanced their cause.
After Komen’s initial announcement, the Ms. Foundation worked quickly to figure the most effective way to shape its message, reach its supporters, and inspire them to take action. In less than 72 hours, Ms. Foundation supporters had a message urging them to donate to “The Ms. Foundation Stands with Planned Parenthood.” Supporters learned that Ms. would match their donations dollar-for-dollar up to a total of $40,000.
Launching the campaign involved a great deal of planning and fast-thinking. “Rapid response involves a lot of moving parts,” said Kelly Parisi, Vice President, Marketing and Communications for the Ms. Foundation. “With the Ms Foundation stands with Planned Parenthood, there were so many elements . . . from identifying what we were going to call this campaign, to how we were going to message our response, and getting the website up and able to accept donations correctly. Adding the element of a matching campaign proved another layer of complication, because there were a lot of pieces that needed to get lined up before we could launch it and put the press release out.”
The campaign proved to be highly effective. Within 30 minutes of sending the initial email, the Ms. Foundation had received 27 donations. Yes, you read that correctly—nearly one donation per minute. And donations continue to roll in.
“It was a really galvanizing issue for people,” said Parisi, “And also I think the immediacy of it was helpful. People who are very passionate about this issue were excited about the ability to take their dollars even further.”
Given that the Komen Foundation reversed its decision the following day, it’s safe to say that immediacy was the most essential key to the Ms. Foundation’s success. With an effective message, a clear mission, and a rapid, disciplined response, the Ms. Foundation was able to transform its supporters’ outrage into action—and dollars—for Planned Parenthood.
If your company has an opportunity to launch a successful, time-sensitive campaign, follow the Ms. Foundation's example:
- Develop a simple, coherent message and call to action
- Have the technology in place to launch a rapid response
- Reach out to your audience as quickly and thoroughly as possible
If you need help with your online marketing strategies or technology platform, contact CDG. We'll help you get everything in place so you're ready to react.
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