The biggest PR disasters often are those that are self-inflicted, and the Girl Scouts are the latest organization to prove this point.
For the record, I love the Girl Scouts. My daughter was a card-carrying member, and who doesn’t love their cookies? But tweeting about the confirmation of arguably the most controversial U.S. Supreme Court Justice in the past century one week before one of the nastiest presidential elections in modern times is just asking – no, begging – for trouble.
Unsurprisingly, it turned into the usual three-act play:
Act 1: Tweet something controversial about a 50-50 issue.
Act 2: Feel the withering backlash from 50% of the people; try to back away from the issue.
Act 3: Incur the wrath of the 50% of people on the other side of the issue for trying to back away from the issue; slowly realize that you have pissed off approximately 100% of people.
The Girl Scouts is a beloved organization that will withstand the criticism because of the strength of its reputation (see Susan G. Komen Foundation). But it was an unforced error, and displayed a stunning lack of understanding about today’s political climate.
3 thoughts on “Girl Scouts Inexplicably Volunteer to Become a Political Football”
Right you are! Unbelievable!
No doubt this is one of the most contentious periods in American history, and for there to be an America where we get along and get things done, it’s got to abate. I thought about your critique of the Girl Scouts and about the typical sound advice of don’t jump into the cauldron unless you have to. But another way to deal with this is for the Girl Scouts to provide an powerful example of the need to lower the flames:
Act 1: “Congratulations Amy Coney Barrett on becoming the 5th woman appointed to the Supreme Court since its inception in 1789.
Act 2: Backlash ensues from people opposed to Amy Coney Barrett in the Supreme Court.
Act 3: Girl Scouts issue the following statement.
“On Wednesday October 27, we tweeted a congratulations to Amy Coney Barrett for becoming only the 5th woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. We would have issued a nearly identical statement for Sandra Day O’Connor, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or Elena Kagan. Our message has nothing whatsoever to do with political leanings. We find it sad that our nation has become so contentious that half the population believes that the other half will unequivocally, catastrophically lead the nation to absolute ruin. A mention of a person with opposing beliefs (in any context) can trigger an avalanche of outrage. It is our belief that this cannot continue for us to be viable as a united people.
We affirm that the Girl Scouts is an organization that prepares girls to empower themselves and promotes compassion, courage, confidence, character, leadership, entrepreneurship, and active citizenship. We have leaders and members from nearly every faith. We are not aligned with and do not endorse political or social causes. As such and in that spirit, we congratulate Amy Coney Barrett and will not permit a culture of division to diminish our acknowledgement of her notable achievements.”
Act 4: Many media outlets report on this refreshing response to a culture of contempt and say that this is what we need at this point in America. It is a restorative vision for 2021 after an incredibly difficult 2020. Many in the nation respond similarly because they are plain exhausted from civil war. The Girl Scouts become a symbol of unity.