Want to know how to handle a public relations disaster that could damage you and your organization’s reputation? Check out these 6 very different approaches below of how public figures have addressed mistakes and accusations.
1. Transform Your Image: Michael Vick
NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s reputation quickly went down the toilet after he was arrested and convicted for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring. Many people, including myself, were furious and believed that Vick would never recover from the incident. Vick, however, was able to resuscitate his career when he transformed his brand by becoming a volunteer, educator and advocate for animal rights.
2. Rationalize What Happened: Shinzo Abe
When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized for Japan’s aggression during World War II, he attempted to rationalize what led Japan to commit the aggression in the first place. The “apology” was largely derided by Japan’s neighbours in China and South Korea as well as Western media. However, it was warmly received by Abe’s primary audience: conservative members of his political party.
3. Never Surrender: Donald Trump
Businessman and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump never apologizes. When asked to explain his past misogynistic comments during a Fox News Republican debate, Trump instead blamed “political correctness” and later attacked the moderator on TV and online with – yes – misogynistic remarks.
4. Deny Everything: Rob Ford
For the longest time, former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford completely denied media allegations about his substance abuse problems and the existence of a video in which he appeared to be smoking crack cocaine. During his denial, he was able to successfully politicize the spectacle by blaming the “elites”. It wasn’t until a smoking gun was found – a picture of him smoking crack cocaine – that Ford finally apologized.
5. Withdraw From Public Life: Josh Duggar
Evangelical Christian Josh Duggar resigned from his role as Executive Director of the Family Research Council, a Christian lobbying organization, when it was uncovered that he had molested young girls in his teenage years. His popular show, TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting”, was also cancelled.
6. Just Say You’re Sorry: Dolce and Gabbana
Fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana came under fire from Sir Elton John when they said they were against gay marriage and the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques for gay parents, which they said led to the creation of “synthetic children”. (Sir Elton’s children were conceived through IVF.) The designers acknowledged their mistake and offered a sincere apology to Sir Elton and his husband.
Did you find this article helpful? How do you deal with mistakes? Leave a comment below!