Like many of you, I’m interested in seeing where Susan B. Komen for the Cure goes after last week’s controversy. I wish the best to them—they’ve done so much very good work over the years. I hope they are able to refocus, clarify their mission and act on it, then communicate well around it.
These Facebook posts from yesterday are a good start with clear, honest communication and action (I’m sure Handel didn’t leave voluntarily). But it’ll take many more consistent actions that show—not tell—folks that they can trust Komen once again.
Here are my recommendations for Komen leadership right now, on mission and branding fronts:
- Look deep inside at your mission and come to a clear agreement on what that means in terms of action—funding, programs, political affiliation (if any) and partnerships, including cause marketing. Ensure there’s commitment to this, and that all leaders are able to convey it effectively. Make sure you incorporate the viewpoints of affiliates (many of whom feel betrayed) and supporters in your decision.
- Hold back from communicating, much, before you’ve finished this decision making—and introducing it to affiliates, volunteers, and other involved stakeholders—and developed a comprehensive communications strategy.
- Know what your messages are, and stick to them.
- Reshape your communications strategy from megaphone to conversation—there’s really no choice, as you saw last week. If you don’t jump into the conversation, others will fill that gap for you.
- Build understanding and skills in all core communications channels, including social media. The fails there last week were stunning, and highly destructive to your organization.
- Know that when you do go “public,” your actions will speak much louder than words (like the first post above). Many affiliates and supporters have been alienated, and it’ll take a long time to rebuild their trust through honest, consistent action.
- Anticipate the unexpected from past experiences and be prepared for it. Be prepared to respond quickly, fully and clearly.
- Above all else: Make an internal commitment—across the organization—to honesty, transparency and consistency.
Then get back to the work at hand!
How would you advise Komen to repair its reputation? Please share your thoughts here.
Here’s more of Komen’s busted branding: