What is it with members of the Conde Nast family and stepping in it, over and over, with both feet? As you may recall, Vogue Magazine pulled off arguably the worst PR blunder of 2011 with its ridiculous puff piece on the wife of Syria’s genocidal dictator.
Now sibling publication GQ has managed to steal the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. To get you up to speed, GQ published a list of what the magazine views as the worst-dressed cities in America. Boston topped the list, and contributor John B. Thompson included this line:
“Boston suffers from a kind of Style Down Syndrome, where a little extra ends up ruining everything.”
For now, Conde Nast’s only crisis PR step is stating that “[t]he author has personally responded to the people who reached out concerning this matter.” You’re probably (rightfully) wondering what exactly this non-apology means. Here’s a free piece of crisis PR advice for magazine editors everywhere: Extreme smugness is, ahem, not in vogue, and certainly not stylish crisis management. (Our apologies for the lame fashion puns, just couldn’t resist.)
Apparently GQ and Thompson are selectively issuing apologies to some who have sent the magazine angry letters. That’s definitely a step in the right direction, but the better show of contrition would be posting an apology on GQ’s site.
Thankfully, unlike the incredibly ugly Vogue incident, someone has managed to turn this really rotten lemon into tasty summertime lemonade, and with a total show of class, humor, and grace – the kind of style combination that clearly eludes GQ and Thompson. Dr. Brian Skotko, a clinical fellow in genetics at Children’s Hospital Boston, happens to have a sister with Down syndrome. Skotko published an open letter to GQ on his blog where he playfully criticizes his own Nantucket-leaning sartorial ways, but also shares the joys and lessons of life with his sister. No venomous attack, but a healthy dose of well-earned shame-on-you for GQ.
Well played, Dr. Skotko! PR grade: A+.