Thursday, April 28, 2011

"We messed up." When bad timing makes for bad PR. How would you respond?

Yesterday devastating tornados tore across the southern United States and close to 300 people died.

Yesterday tried a fresh new approach and sent out an email entitled: "Mother Nature hates you. Deal with it."

It would seem that yesterday was also the day when a bold risk from an outdoor gear company and the weather clashed.

My honeymoon( 16 years ago!) took place above the tree line in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. I get the idea behind the approach. A good gortex jacket can make or break an outdoor experience. On its own this is refreshing marketing. Yesterday was just bad timing.

So what did do?

They were proactive, took responsibility (even though I'm not sure they should have) and apologized. Here is the email we received today:

Subject: Apology for yesterdays email
Dear Craig,

We messed up. Yesterday, as the people of Alabama dealt with the devastating aftermath of an intensely damaging and life-taking tornado, we neglected to put a stop to the distribution of an email with the header: "Mother Nature hates you. Deal with it." This was extremely insensitive and offensive, and we are so sorry.

Please accept our sincerest apologies for this mistake. What was intended to be witty marketing copy may have been when we wrote these words two weeks ago, but in light of current events and the suffering of people affected by Mother Nature's wrath, it is not only not witty, it is completely unacceptable. We at send our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and to everyone now faced with rebuilding their homes and their communities.

And again, we extend our sincerest apologies for our lack of foresight and our complete insensitivity in sending yesterday's email.

Jill Layfield

Now I'm pretty sure that no one could have forseen two weeks ago the devastating impact this tornado would have, or even the tornado itself. I also think that our dear friend Jill may have gone a bit overboard with her humility and apologies. However, their swift action in drafting this email and sending it out admitting that they were insensitive and apologizing is very cool public relations. They turned on a dime and because of that I'll shop there more often. Will you?

Thanks for spending time here.

1 comment:

  1. Ironically it was the force of "MOTHER NATURE" that made Jill Layfield "DEAL WITH IT" (PR damage control).

    I take issue with any company having a presumptuous attitude. "Hates you" and "Deal with it" are a terrible choice of words regardless of the recent disaster.

    So with that said, I respectfully disagree with you Kimberly.