A Topman jumper ‘mocking’ victims of the Hillsborough Disaster and a chicken shop which ran out of chicken – two PR disasters within weeks of each other which made this ex-journalist turned PR guru wince over her morning cuppas. How could these two catastrophes happen to such global and PR-savvy brands?
However, when Topman was accused of showing insensitivity towards the Hillsborough victims with its t-shirt which had the large white numbering of 96 on the back with “What goes around comes back around” and “Karma” printed on it, the worldwide clothing brand didn’t try and cover up the mess or shy away from the public uproar. Its PR team did what we would always advise our clients to do when a mistake of this magnitude is made – confess and apologise.
The clothing brand released a statement to the world some hours after the ‘controversial’ and ‘offensive’ garment appeared online. It “apologised unreservedly” for any offence caused by the t-shirt, and explained the phrase and numbers were based on a Bob Marley soundtrack.
Similarly, with the logistical meltdown at KFC with not even a wing or nugget in sight for more than a week, the fast-food chain didn’t cover this up – and apologised, albeit more tongue in cheek compared to Topman with a rather straight-talking message.
The ‘FCK’ advert, an empty chicken bucket with the KFC lettering deliberately shuffled up to create a completely (or to some, offensive) new meaning was again another great example of reactive PR. The advert was splashed across newspapers across the country bringing wry smiles and quiet chuckles to all who saw it.
Reactive PR is the most effective way you can deal with what may seem the ultimate crisis as it arguably minimises the damage caused to your brand when things go south. If you look in the papers or online at these two topics tomorrow, they will be classed as old news and we will all be laying in wait for the next nightmare to come along.
At Proactive International PR we know how to diffuse a PR disaster, and we’re not afraid of using humour, issuing apologies or working round the clock to turn a crisis on its head.
These two separate PR blunders will stay with me for some time as I continue my career in PR, as they are perfect examples of how apologising for your slip-ups can in fact be the very thing that may save your brand.