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    Katie Delahaye Paine (twitter: KDPaine) is the CEO and founder of KDPaine & Partners LLC and author of, Measuring Public Relationships, the data-driven communicators guide to measuring success. She also writes the first blog and the first newsletters dedicated entirely to measurement and accountability. In the last two decades, she and her firm have listened to millions of conversations, analyzed thousands of articles, and asked hundreds of question in order to help her clients better understand their relationships with their constituencies. People talk, we listen..

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« Automated Vs. Human Analysis | The Social Analyst | Main | Who's getting what news where? »

February 03, 2012


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Hi, Katie! I am particularly fascinated by the continued evidence we see in large organizations that they have made their communications advisors nothing more than mouthpieces for the script from senior management, not trusted advisors at the table telling them what the consequences of their decisions will be. We've seen this continue for decades, from Roger Smith at GM waving off advice from his PR team to please meet with Michael Moore, to JetBlue, to Bank of America, and now Komen.

Why do so many apparently smart senior business leaders get so wrapped up in believing in their own invincibility, ready to fire the PR department messengers when they tell the boss he doesn't have any clothes on?


Katie -

For sure this is devastating news that seems driven by politics. But putting that all aside, of course they will recover. I list as examples of "unrecoverable" reputations:
1. Michael Vick - Remember how mad we were at him and his dog escapades? Now? We cheer for him and he was rewarded with a $100M contract.
2. Bill Clinton - He slept with an intern for crissakes but today is lauded as one of the world's great leaders
3. BP - When's the last time you heard anything bad about them? How many people are still boycotting their service stations?
4. Domino's Pizza - we're outraged by the YouTube video showing disgraceful behavior of one of its franchisees but me thinks they are gonna sell a ton of pizza this weekend
5. GoDaddy - Shooting elephants, SOPA..we get mad but we don't stop registering those domains.

and your examples:

4. Southwest Airlines - despite kicking Kevin Smith off a flight for being too fat we still love our SWA
5. FedEx - They garner worldwide attention for chucking a monitor over a gate. Aside from a few days of "fake" outrage its business as usual for them.

My point is that we are great at short term outrage but short on follow-through. We crucify, forget, and then move on.

Komen will be no different and in this case the cause will prove to be more important than the actions - We've already seen it with the outpouring of donations to Planned Parenthood. Eventually, Komen come out will some mealy-mouth explanation, organization shakeup, or reversal of decision. The Race for the Cure will continue unabated and we'll wait for the next guy to stub their toe so we can get mad at them for a day or two. The pattern is all too familiar.

Dave Hitt

I realized they were the bad guys when I found they were spending a million dollars a year suing other charities who used the phrase "for the cure."

Now they've stepped in it, and they deserve to dry up and die. I doubt that will happen, but from now on when their name is mentioned most people won't think, "oh yeah, the breast cancer folks," but "oh yeah, the one who hate planned parenthood."

They've shown their true colors. Maybe they should switch to a black ribbon.


Thank you for your eloquent response. You said what I am still too red-faced angry to express.

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