With the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation backing off of its decision to rescind funding from Planned Parenthood and the halting of SOPA last month, 2012 is turning out to be the year of the virtual protester. After Komen made its announcement, a bunch of blog posts, tweets, and hacks helped push the cancer awareness organization to revise its position. Before social media evangelists celebrate another victory, it's worth noting that this isn't just the result of the new Internet-empowered class, but also an indication that entrenched public relations pros are scrambling to manage e a new medium and a news cycle that moves faster than ever before.
Komen knew its decision to defund breast cancer examinations for Planned Parenthood would cause a public relations stir, as the internal documents The Atlantic's Jeffery Goldberg posted this morning reveled. Yet its PR team was unprepared for the type of push-back that ensued. In those memos, the foundation outlined ways employees should answer possible questions it might face in light of the move, but nowhere in there does it mention how to handle a social media onslaught, revealing just how little their experts know about how much the terrain has changed.