Acknowledge Mistakes Promptly, Then Issue an Authentic Apology and Action Plan

[Editor’s Note: Too often an apology in a PR crisis can seem formulaic. The company or person admits they’ve done something wrong, issues an apology and all is forgiven. It's too easy sometimes.

Indeed, before Whoopi Goldberg eventually apologized for her Jan. 31 remark that “the Holocaust was not about racism,” she seemed to imply that a lot of public apologies are insincere. During Stephen Colbert’s show, Goldberg insisted she didn’t want to “fake apologize.”

Similarly, some recent apologies in PR crises and incidents seem pro forma and insincere. The LIV golf tour’s clarification of Greg Norman saying Jamal Khashoggi’s murder was a “mistake” seemed to be as poorly crafted as Norman’s initial remarks.

Moreover, the author of a controversial Feb. 22 PRNEWS essay argues that cancel culture sometimes renders well-written apologies moot.

We discuss that article and the importance of an apology with Nicki Gibbs, chief strategy officer, Beehive Strategic Communication, and Dr. Kerry O’Grady, faculty director and associate professor, Georgetown University School of Continuing Education.


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