Girl Scouts get out in front of Boy Scouts’ bankruptcy crisis with proactive messaging

by | Feb 27, 2020 | Public Relations

On February 18, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) formally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Exemplifying the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) motto of “Be prepared,” the organization promptly sent messaging guidance to all of its members, which includes volunteers and parents.

This messaging is informative, timely and well done.

Kudos to the Girl Scouts for being ready to protect and defend its brand, and for preparing its members—who may have to field questions from the public at Girl Scout cookie program booth sales—as news of BSA’s bankruptcy made national headlines.

This is a great example of proactive, pre-crisis thinking. And it’s also a lesson in internal communications; that is, sharing accurate information in a timely fashion with “front line” representatives of an organization. This is a textbook case of using proactive messaging to distinguish your brand from “co-petitors” in the news.

The talking points below come via an email from the Girl Scouts of Orange County, California.

Marketplace positioning talking points following BSA’s filing of Chapter 11 bankruptcy:

  • First and foremost, Girl Scouts is and always has been a completely separate and independent nonprofit organization from any other youth-serving or scouting organization and is not now and has never been affiliated with, partnered with, a subsidiary of, or otherwise engaged with any other youth-serving or scouting organization.
  • Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and Boy Scouts of America (BSA) were founded separately, incorporated separately, and have existed as two completely separate and distinct organizations for more than a century. That has not changed, nor will it ever.
  • Girl Scouts of the USA does not share or overlap membership or finances with Boy Scouts of America.
  • BSA’s decision to admit girls did not signify a merger, partnership, or any other formal or informal joining of our two separate and distinct organizations.
  • The bankruptcy filing by BSA does not have any financial impact on Girl Scouts’ finances, which are strong.
  • In terms of Girl Scouts of the USA’s pending litigation against Boy Scouts of America for trademark infringement, GSUSA will continue to protect our trademark rights and pursue its infringement claims against BSA.
  • Girl Scouts was not part of BSA’s decision-making process to file for bankruptcy, either formally or informally, and so cannot and will not speak to the internal motivations, finances, or decisions of another completely separate organization.
  • Girl Scouts is proud of its more than 100 years of dedicated and expert service to girls—and girls only—in an environment that is girl-led, girl-focused, supportive of girls’ positive development, and, above all, safe.
  • At Girl Scouts, we do not comment on the actions or circumstances surrounding any other organization. As the single-largest and best girl leadership development program in the world, we remain focused on our mission of serving girls and preparing them for a lifetime of leadership.

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Gabriel Sanchez
Gabriel Sanchez is a 20-year veteran of California politics and public affairs.

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