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The peeps at Kel & Partners have a lot to say. After all we are public relations and social media zealots who thrive on sharing interesting news and great stories with the public. The Ampersand Blog is really the voice of our Peeps – the kick-ass team of people that work at K&P. Whether it’s a story about the way PR works NOW, the social media universe, our families, beloved pets or quirky travel experiences, you’ll find it all right here. You may laugh, you may cry, but the best part is you’ll leave feeling “wicked smaht” as we like to say here in Boston.

  • Jayne Seward Facebook

    Jayne Seward | Friday, January 24, 2014 23 Comments

    Top PR Blunder Of 2013: Lululemon’s Founder Strikes Foot-In-Mouth Pose

    While perusing through Business Insider’s end-of-the-year stories, one specific headline caught my attention: Max Nisen’s “The 5 Biggest PR Blunders Of 2013”.  From Chick-fil-A’s inauthenticity to Carnival hiding at the top, Nisen hit the nail on the head with his list. But the one blunder that really struck a cord with me was his #2 choice: ‘Lululemon: Shifting the blame’. As a PR professional and Lululemon customer, this was one communication crisis from 2013 that is hard to forget.

    Lululemon founder and chairman Chip Wilson ignited a social media frenzy last November after telling Bloomberg TV that “quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work,” in reference to criticisms that Lululemon’s pants were too sheer. Numerous media outlets picked up the story, and Twitter erupted with responses to Wilson’s “fat-shaming” comments.

    Although I think we can all agree that his statement was offensive, what made the whole situation worse happened when he released an ‘apology’ for his actions on YouTube that has since been deleted from the company’s YouTube page. Many believed the apology was insincere, and ABC News noted, “It seems like he [was] saying I’m sorry I got caught, but I’m not sorry I said it.”

    In many ways, how Wilson handled the situation showed us how not to handle a PR crisis situation. Here are a few things we can take away from this situation as we begin a new year in crisis communications:

    • Think Before Speaking – All company spokespeople should think carefully before they speak – especially in our media-happy world where anything can be shared by anyone.
    • Tell The Truth – Always be honest and speak the truth to your customers and to the public. Own up to mistakes if you’ve made them, and cite specific actions you’re going to take to remedy them. Being truthful and authentic can go a long way.
    • Tell It Fast – Wilson waited four days before issuing an apology. Responding immediately could have lessened the blow in this instance, and it’s critical to act quickly when in a crisis situation.

    Business Insider also summed up the overarching PR lesson that can be learned from this quite well: “Don’t blame customers for your mistakes, and know when to shut up!”

    Do you think Chip Wilson has made the situation better or worse by attempting to apologize for the comments he made on television?

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