Embattled British youth nonprofit, Kids Company, recently closed its doors, but not before a barrage of negative PR destroying the company’s reputation on two continents. The BBC recently reported that local authorities have begun to draw up emergency plans in an effort to offer support to many children who now find themselves without the succor previously offered by Kids Company.
Critics claim financial mismanagement doomed Kids Company, but founder Camila Batmanghelidjh forcefully decries these allegations. She blames a “malicious campaign” to discredit the charity for its current woes. However, Batmanghelidjh has failed to disclose who would want to discredit the charity and what their motivation might be. These missing pieces of her argument have onlookers raising suspicious eyebrows.
Also according to the BBC, there have been numerous allegations of “improperly handled incidents” at the charity. According to reports, the Metropolitan Police are investigating these allegations.
When faced with both public outcry and ongoing criminal or civil investigations, it is imperative for a brand to offer countering soundbites and information that is both specific and plausible. It’s one thing to say people are out to get you. It’s quite another to offer evidence for this.
But, instead of refuting allegations and mounting evidence, Kids Company has tried to play the old “blame the media” card. Sure, they don’t like what’s being reported. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or unfair. And, yes, sometimes that strategy works, but not when it’s handled in such a ham-fisted way.
According to Batmanghelidjh, the “government” wants the charity gone, so it conjured these baseless attacks to make the charity “disappear.” This sort of messaging often rings both hollow and desperate in the ears of the public. They may be fully able to accept that the government is out to get an organization … as long as there’s at least a decent reason offered as to why the government would take action.
Consider, in the case of the IRS scandal in the US, conservative non-profits blamed political bias for alleged misdeeds. While this may or may not have been the case, it was at least some reason for the average person to get on board. In this case, though, the government had been investigating a long history of alleged financial mismanagement. Then, suddenly, the charity claims unfounded governmental abuse.
They might be better served to prove their books are legitimate … if they can.
Ronn Torossian 5WPR, is the CEO of New York based PR firm 5WPR.