Goodr Sunglasses Controversy: It Entails Having to Apologise
I’m a runner, as regular Zen readers are aware. When you first start jogging, you tell yourself that it’s the cheapest sport because all you need is a pair of sneakers to get started. While this is (mostly) correct, we runners enjoy sharing our favorite devices and equipment.
It probably won’t surprise you to discover that I’m a member of a few Facebook running groups, one of which is rather large, and we frequently post items we like. Goodr, a colorful, edgy sunglasses brand with glasses that stay on your face through long, sweaty runs, a basset hound mascot, and creative names for their sunnies, is one of the most popular among the bunch. My own collection includes three pairs.
One of the group’s members informed us over the weekend that the brand had published a pair of social posts on Facebook and Instagram, one of which encouraged mixing Vicodin with alcohol and the other of which joked about wearing sunglasses when taking hallucinogens in the desert. As you may expect, a brand that promotes drug usage sparked a backlash. Initially, the corporation replied by removing one of the posts and posting a tongue-in-cheek apology on Instagram stories (posts that disappear after 24 hours). Following increased outrage, including remarks from their partner, Olympian Kara Goucher, requesting a more real apology, they posted a statement on their website, as well as amending the description of the glasses to remove the promotional wording.
What does this mean for lawyers and firm leaders?
There are several excellent lessons to be learned from this experience.
You probably have a plan in place for crisis communications. Everyone makes errors, and the audience’s overall consensus was twofold: how did this receive approval (more on that later), and why did Goodr take so long to respond. You may put in place a robust, tried-and-true crisis communication plan as soon as an issue arises. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh, we’d never be so stupid as to let something like that happen,” be wary. Companies can have angry employees or partners, hacked accounts, or simply poor judgment that leads to a tiny mistake becoming a major disaster. Having a tried-and-true plan in place ensures you’re ready to execute straight away.
It’s worth noting that deleting your posts isn’t a viable option. Yes, the posts should be removed, but this should be done as part of a crisis management strategy. Even if you think you’ve deleted all trace of it, someone has a copy. People will be more driven to display it the more you try to hide it.
Don’t be hesitant to enlist outside support to design this plan if you’re a small or even a huge organization.
It may not be your area of expertise, so delegate the planning and execution to the professionals. When a crisis is mishandled, it can exacerbate the original error. Having stated that,…
Communication during a crisis cannot be delegated, thus leadership must be visible. Yes, you should have a spokesman in your strategy, someone who is well-versed in the firm and adept at dealing with the public, the media, and other stakeholders under duress.
However, there are two key points to remember here: the spokesman should be a senior, if not very senior, member, of the firm, demonstrating that you take the issues seriously and are dealing with them accordingly. Second, even if the firm’s leaders aren’t the spokespersons during a crisis, social media makes us all reachable. As a result, the strategy should include providing messaging that everyone can comfortably communicate across the company. They are not required to engage in the same way that the spokesperson does, but they should not be isolated in the ivory tower on the hill if pressed. The latter suggests that the organization or firm is either concealing something or is unconcerned.
The best method to bring comfort to clients is to stay consistent while still being as honest as possible at the time.
It’s crucial to apologize:
Lawyers, I’m sure, are wary of apologies since presuming liability is risky. However, it may and should be a part of your crisis communications if it is guided by your counsel, management committee, and plan. But “I’m sorry” isn’t enough. Clients want to know what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what you’re going to do about it. “We messed up – we thought this was a joke, but it crossed the line,” they may have said in the instance of Goodr.
We agree that it’s not humorous, therefore we’ll better teach our marketing and social media departments on where the boundary is drawn, and we’ll donate XX to this charity for opiate addiction treatment.” Frequently, all the other person wants to hear is that they were correct and that you are sorry. It can go a long way toward mending the connection, and it can even strengthen your reputation.
With their success, Goodr has done a lot of good, such as helping anti-domestic violence organizations. All of that is buried in a few edgy and amusing social media tweets. You never know what minor detail will trigger a reaction. Are you ready to face the storm if your company finds itself in the middle of a crisis?
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