Friday, July 29

How wrong can you be..?

I've been expanding my horizons lately.

It used to be exclusively executive-level media training and interview coaching, but lately I've added a level of "PR sensitivity" for those in an organization who will never be a spokesperson.

In that training, we talk about how to evaluate a potential public relations nightmare, and how to report it up the chain before it becomes to big to deflect.

I can guarantee that after the first hour, everyone who comes out of my training will have enough foresight to avoid something as stupid as this: 'Ghetto Talent Show,' Watermelon Eating Contest Outrages Community (Yahoo! News)
Miami city leaders are apologizing for a news release that invited summer campers to a ''Ghetto Style Talent Show'' and ''Watermelon Eating Contest.''

The release said that children participating in the summer camp who "know the meaning of ghetto style" would have a chance to "prove just how ghetto they are.''
It's okay to try to get attention with your news release. This isn't what we had in mind, though...
Members of the black community expressed outrage at the wording of the invitation to the talent show.
...and for some reason, those in the city offices didn't seem to be aware. (Maybe they have been taking race-relations lessons from el Presidente Vicente Fox.)
After being criticized by residents of the nearby Model City neighborhood and community leaders, Miami Parks Director Ernest Burkeen, who is black, released a formal apology and announced the renaming of the talent show.
Well, that ought to heal some of the wounds...
The show will now be called the "Funky Talent Show," according to Burkeen's written statement. The watermelon contest will still be part of the event.
...just in time to pour in the salt.

I wasn't sure whether to classify this as a planning bungle, and execution bungle, or a damage-control disaster. Instead, we'll call it an object lesson in what not to do.


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