After admitting to beating his girlfriend, Rihanna, en route to the Grammys this year, he found himself to be about as welcome in Hollywood as a bout of swine flu. ‘Could women trust a man like Brown?' demanded The Sun. After apparently seeking advice from his pastor however, this week, like an R&B phoenix from the flames, it would seem that Brown's penance is almost served. Forget 100 Hail Marys, this is the church of Tinseltown and Brown has received a pardon thanks to Our Lord of YouTube.
Clearly benefiting from some divine PR guidance from above and his lawyer, Brown embarked on his ‘long' road to recovery with a period of prolonged radio silence, while the world moved on. But then, with his sentencing imminent, Brown issued a grovelling apology on YouTube, sharing his contrition with his remaining fans. He was also spotted in a New York hotel with the Umbrella star and, even better, Rihanna publicly called for an easing on Brown's restraining order. Brown was even back on stage this week, wowing fans at a Lil' Wayne concert. Amen to that.
A period of silence will allow the media agenda to move on.
An admission of guilt via YouTube helped to connect directly with the general public rather than rely on the media to tell the story.
Timing is key. Know when to start communicating again.
A bad week for Whole Foods CEO John Mackey
It's been a bad week for health food cheerleaders. First the shocking revelation that perhaps organic foods are actually no healthier than their intensively farmed equivalents. Then the boss of Whole Foods, grocery supplier to the middle classes, dropped himself in a large punnet of the brown stuff by declaring that ‘we sell a bunch of junk'. It begs the question, was Whole Foods CEO John Mackey being advised by the notorious Gerald Ratner? Either way, it was left to UK boss Jeff Turnas to claim that his comments had been ‘lost in translation'.
Referrring to the increasing prevalance of sweets and crisps on sale (one hopes they are at least organic) at his stores, Mackey fell into the trap of using emotive language to describe his product. The comments came to light in an interview with the earnest Wall Street Journal but have been seized upon by the UK press. This has prompted a flurry of comments on the Guardian website and on the letters page of the Evening Standard, amongst others. Ranging from; ‘If Whole Foods goes bust in the UK, good riddance I say', to Douglas from Gerrard Cross's more considered; ‘never tell the public you are selling them junk, they may turn on you.'
Perhaps Mackey should listen to Douglas, as right now he is in a Whole World of Trouble.
Beware ‘Ratner's Paradox'; comments that may be intended to illustrate one point can be taken out of context to make a better story.
Never question the quality of your products in public.
Stay on message and choose your words carefully.
PRWeek and Waggener Edstrom are hosting an event for in-house communicators on 9 September to duscuss the lessons derived from these stories. Email us for your free place, including your name, title and organisation.