The real Susan G. Komen crisis

Now that the dust has settled on the Susan G. Koman fracas, I feel the need to clear the air.


You see, I was suffering from a serious case of KomenFatigue. I'm better now, but if you're not familiar with the malady, allow me to educate you.

KomenFatigue is a subset of a more virulent disease suffered by 99 percent of the tens of thousands of professionals who call themselves PR bloggers: it's called LemmingItis. Its symptoms range from generating most of one's original thinking to either support, or oppose, the decisions made, or not made, by the person, place or thing dominating the day's news.

And, so, when the Komen/Planned Parenthood crisis broke, the PR trades were brimming with blogs that supported Komen, suggested Komen's CEO was the anti-Christ for not immediately stepping down, or pursued one of several other courses of action (including my personal favorite: 'What if Komen had stood its ground'?). Talk about Monday morning quarterbacking!

But, I digress. Back to the larger malady known as LemmingItis. Most public relations thought leaders depend on one of five subjects for their daily blogs:

– social media trends
– media training dos and don'ts
– corporate social responsibility trends
– measurement trends
– breaking news

Without one of those platforms, you'd be hard pressed to find original thinking on Bulldog, or any other site.

That's why, when I lead internal workshops or counsel clients on blog writing, Tweeting, FBing or podcasting, I almost always suggest they follow the road less traveled. Do you really care what the 3,956th PR executive has to say about Komen or Whitney Houston, or to learn the results of a CEO survey that tells you what you already know? I sure don't. And, that's why I ignore most PR blogs. That's also why most business blogs fail.

The few blogs I do read are those that uncover fresh stories that reaffirm the critical role image and reputation play in a world without trust. Those are the real gems and, in my opinion, those are the bloggers whose opinions will still be sought long after Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, FourSquare and other current channels are replaced by the next bright, shiny object.

So, do yourself, your boss or your client a favor: tell her to avoid writing a blog on the same subject as everyone else. Tell her, instead, to take the road less traveled, uncover a story few have discovered and posit a fresh POV on the image and reputation implications of the tale.

I'd love to continue, but CNN is breaking a new crisis that, I'm sure, will inspire no fewer than 6,363 PR blogs in tomorrow's trade journals. And, we'll once again be besieged by another case of LemmingItis.


4 thoughts on “The real Susan G. Komen crisis

  1. Thanks Steve. What you say is 100 percent true. Most people are hard wired to take the path of least resistance. And, that most definitely includes most PR bloggers. I think the average PR blogger would be lost without a steady stream of Linsanity, Susan G. Komen and the celebrity crisis du jour from which to form new content.

  2. Great observations Steve, as usual. I wonder if the social media environment doesn’t lend itself to the LemmingItis you describe.
    Much of social media is more akin to a fast-moving stream of data whizzing by us at quantum speeds verses any real actionable information we can consider at leisure and within some context that provides value and meaning.
    It’s rare to find the few minutes to read a blog while monitoring your twitter feeds, piniterest updates, FB timeline, Diggs, Tumblrs and Stumble Upons, to name a few.
    I believe there’s a sense of not daring to turn our backs on the constant feed babble we’re subjected to least we miss that one crucial item over the day that seems important.
    I’ve long advocated for more information and less data but, it’s a tough sell in the social media rapids.
    Which reminds me, I need to re-Tweet a bunch of useless data and write a blog post about Lemmings.

  3. Right back at you, Julia. Failure is in the eye of the reader. A blog fails if it doesn’t resonate with the reader. Most PR blogs fail with me because they either tell me what I already knew or wax poetic about the breaking story of the day. I don’t need, or want, PR executives telling me what Susan G. Komen did, or didn’t do right. Likewise, readers of business blogs want insights they can’t get from the ‘usual suspects’ in their field.

  4. Mr. Cody, big fan, first-time commenter. You say “most business blogs fail”. I’m curious – how do you measure success or failure in this context?