Planned Parenthood takes on Live Action: An analysis of media interplay and image restoration strategies in strategic conflict management

Leslie Lynn Rasmussen


On February 1, 2011 the pro-life organization Live Action released videos that appeared to show Planned Parenthood clinic staff disregarding statutory rape and abortion reporting laws and aiding sex traffickers. The videos posted online quickly garnered over a million views and placed Planned Parenthood at the forefront of national news. The Federal government intervened and threatened to remove funding to the Title X organization. Planned Parenthood launched a campaign to retain funding using social media and controlled online media, and attempted restore its image as a reputable healthcare provider while engaged in conflict with Live Action. A content analysis was performed to investigate the use of social media and controlled online media of two parties engaged in conflict and to explore the interplay with traditional media. Results illustrate public relations theories in practice as organizations manage conflicts while considering new communicative platforms. Planned Parenthood's approach contradicted research that suggests organizations at fault have more influence by admitting fault and apologizing. Results further suggest Planned Parenthood's efforts were effective in securing favorable media coverage.