Learn From PR Mistakes

By Matter

For those of you who don’t know I’m a celebrity fanatic, always looking for the inside scoop, rumors and gossips into celebrity lives.  Sunday night I tuned into the MTV Music Video Awards, just like the other 11 million viewers and witnessed Kanye West’s PR mistake.  For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s award speech during the beginning of the show, stating that Beyonce should have won the award.  After witnessing this embarrassment for Kanye I couldn’t help but think of the PR no-no that just occurred.

There are a few PR lessons to be learned from Sunday night’s PR mishap that I personally witnessed:

1.  Whether it’s a business, individual, or organization, be respectful of your peers.  That means your customers and potential customers.  In this Kanye West/Taylor Swift incident, Kanye West knows the hard work that goes into the music business.  He should have been respectful Of Taylor Swift winning the award, she earned it.  And just like our clients, when we are pitching, talking to reporters or drafting press releases, we don’t need to patronize the competitor.

2.  Respond quickly if you’re going to respond at all.  Any PR pro knows how fast you need to respond when something is handled negatively in the media.  Have a plan of action before you respond, and keep you customers and stakeholder’s top of mind.

3.  Be tactful.  In Kanye’s case he tactfully apologized immediately, admitting he was wrong and should not have interrupted Taylor’s acceptance speech.  He went to the media and communicated that what he did was wrong.  I believe this was the most tactful thing from a PR perspective he could have done.  He didn’t wait until a few days later; he immediately responded and faced the media.

At some point, nearly every company faces a public relations crisis of some scale.  One of the best ways to survive a crisis is to prepare for one. Planning ahead also gives a business more of a chance to turn a crisis into a positive.  Getting in front of the story, in Kanye’s incident, I believed helped him.  He got in front of the media before they could get to him, and he was honest.   Bottom line, its clear crisis communications begins before a crisis.  Being aware of the tools and mediums out there that can help you prepare for a crisis is critical, however, learning from your mistakes, to me, is one of the most useful methods.