First, let me say the Lady makes great macaroni and cheese!
OK, now that I have that out of my system … let’s move on.
Paula Deen is having a bad day, week, and month. After a deposition where she admitted to uttering the n-word and using racial epithets, Deen was let go from The Food Network and Smithfield. QVC is monitoring the situation.
The situation continues to get worse for Deen. As a public relations professional, my opinion is crisis management is all about honestly. I think the entire situation could have been avoided if she came out and told her story. The following are ways in which I would handle Deen’s situation.
1. Always, always be honest. Take a tip from Tylenol. When they discovered people were being poisoned, they came out and were honest about the situation. They also created child-proof caps. In Deen’s situation, she should come out ahead of the story. Tell your sponsors what you are going through and develop a consistent message detailing what you will say and what you will not.
2. Do not cancel media. One, they will not want to have you back. You need to be honest with them in the good times and the bad. Two, you become a story. Lauer mentioned the cancellation on-air and as a result, in my opinion, contributed to her firing.
3. Limit how much social media you use when in crisis. This is a very controversial opinion but I think when in crisis there should be one message coming from one source. If one release a message on Facebook, twitter, YouTube and in a press release, and all the messages are different, then each has different interpretation. Pick a format and stick with it.
4. Make your message short and clear. Deen was clearly out of sorts, tired and came off very vulnerable in her YouTube messages. We are all human and have bad days. When you have those issues, take a breath and release a statement when you have clearly thought of your position.
5. Lastly, take a break. Get your house in order and come back stronger in the next 6 months to a year. Americans have very, very short memories. Our country is filled with major comebacks: Robert Downey, Jr., Roman Polanski, and even President Bill Clinton.
See you next week!