Spokespeople are learning this week that rash actions have consequences.
First, a photograph of Kathy Griffin holding up a bloodied facsimile head of President Donald Trump surfaced May 30, the result of a shoot with photographer Tyler Shields. The rather disturbing image provoked outrage that went beyond the partisan. Despite an apologetic video Griffin posted to Instagram, her endorsement partner Squatty Potty was quick to suspend an advertising campaign featuring her. CNN's response came soon after: The cable news giant said May 30 that it had terminated its agreement with Griffin to co-host its annual New Year's Eve program.
The Twitter response of certain relevant figures:
For the record, I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in. It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate.
— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) May 31, 2017
Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
This is vile and wrong. It is never funny to joke about killing a president. https://t.co/zIiuKoMyFw
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) May 30, 2017
New York Mets mascot Mr. Met is also feeling the heat after a video on social media showed the character giving the finger to fans at a May 31 game at Citi Field. An official response from the Mets came only a couple of hours later: "We apologize for the inappropriate action of this employee. We do not condone this type of behavior. We are dealing with this matter internally." An anonymous Mets official also explained to the Associated Press that more than one person puts on the mascot costume and plays the part of Mr. Met, and the person who made the obscene gesture will no longer be essaying the role.
Spokespeople may be making poor choices this week, but PR and communications teams are demonstrating that their crisis plans are robust by taking quick, decisive action and communicating it to the public effectively. With influencer marketing on the rise, more PR departments large and small should keep these incidents in mind as potential crisis models to anticipate—and responses to emulate.
Follow Ian James Wright on Twitter: @ianwright0101