Why did she bail on the Today Show, a show where millions of politicians caught with their pants down and athletes on steroids have apologized to rave reviews (doesn’t Paula know you don’t anger Matt Lauer!)? Where was her social media presence?
Where was her team in meeting with her retail partners? Or, for that matter, once she knew certain retailers were going to drop her, where was her team in ensuring they all did it on the same day, thus avoiding a longer news cycle?
So many questions; so few answers. Do I feel badly for Ms. Deen? No!
Why not, you ask?
Well, because of all the unanswered questions above. It’s often said there are two types of companies in this world: those that have had a crisis and those that will have a crisis.
Paula et. al. should have been preparing for the advent of a crisis much sooner (especially if those close to her realized that she wasn’t very politically correct sans cameras…porn and profanity, Paula, really?!?!?). They should have had an action plan in place.
When the story broke, it should have been a war room in Paula’s offices. Every one of her team should have been on the phone with one of her partners making apologies, and more importantly, asking how the team could help them deal with this crisis.
And most importantly, Paula should have apologized about three days sooner.
Say what you want in her defense (in fact, I love her recipes and show just as much as the next person), but, come on; this crisis could have had a different outcome if Paula had followed some PR 101.
Have a crisis team and plan in place. Please, don’t go it alone. Apologize (and mean it!). Reach out to your partners and ask to help them. Communicate with your staff. Don’t anger Matt Lauer.
And most importantly, “YouTube-proof” yourself. Don’t want to get caught in a compromising position? Don’t do something compromising. Manage your reputation before something bad happens (don’t, for example, lie about having diabetes).
Basically, don’t "pull a Paula."
Emily Meredith serves as communications director for the Animal Agriculture Alliance and manages all aspects of the communications strategy. She is responsible for the Issues Management Committee and coordinating effective responses to the issues of the industry.