Hearst, ‘Ellen Show’ Crises Highlight Need to Align Brand with Reality

frustrated, mobile

Katie Paine, CEO, Paine Publishing

In recent weeks, as many consumer brands have revealed their inability to manage communication in troubled and uncertain times, it is surprising when media companies, whose business is to be on top of things, get caught flatfooted responding to breaking news or trending themes.

Even more telling is the damage media brands suffer when reports appear that show a stark contrast between a brand’s image and the conditions under which its products are produced.
Ellen and 'Be Kind'
The Ellen DeGeneres Show came under fire for a tone-deaf tweet about the George Floyd protests and a toxic company culture. Reports have up to 10 current or former staffers alleging they were subject to bullying and racism.

Similar charges could be, and have been, made against any number of celebrities, though they make headlines sporadically. Perhaps DeGeneres’s Be Kind positioning made these allegations a more engaging story.

Still, stories around the DeGeneres show and its host’s less-than-authentic public persona–allegedly she's not as nice as she seems on screen–percolated

A March 2020 tweet by Kevin T. Porter seeking the “most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean” (which promised to reward stories with a donation to the LA Food Bank) generated nearly 18,000 retweets and comments.
Personnel Issues, Too
In April, there were loud rumblings from staff about poor communication around pay and conditions during the pandemic. Some claimed they were fired for taking medical or bereavement days. Others charged insensitivity and racial bias.

And we know there will be more to come given tweets and comments like: "We want your help!


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