Crisis PR can push a client to act very quickly in changing or ending certain business practices. One recent noteworthy case is the ubiquitous celeb family the Kardashians, and the quick vanishing act performed by their name brand pre-paid debit card.
Just as soon as the card was announced, numerous critics pounced on the card’s predatory and heavy-handed fee structure. The primary concern was that the card was being marketed to teenage girls, who critics argue lack the understanding of the delicate finances and responsibility required to manage such a card account.
To that end, the wise thing for the Kardashians to do was to, ahem, cancel the card. And, a simple statement acknowledging their error could have put a nice end to the PR crisis and helped them move on. That’s largely what happened, except for a couple of poorly executed twists:
First, their lawyer issued such a statement on the family’s behalf, instead of the family doing so themselves. Effective crisis public relations counsels the client to make such statements directly to show authenticity and sincerity in seeking redemption. Having your lawyer make the statement runs counter to this consideration.
Second, if you’re going to make a statement, don’t throw in any laughable points for the media to highlight. The lawyer’s key quote was that the Kardashian sisters “have worked extremely long and hard to create a positive public persona” and that effort was compromised by the card’s fees. This statement is incredibly arrogant, particularly since the family’s biggest claims to fame are association with a likely murderer and a notorious sex tape. Unfortunately for the Kardashians, it’s the quote that most connected with the media. Plus, it’s hard to reconcile a “positive public persona” when this is the front of the card you’re marketing:
We’d give the Kardashians a C+ for their crisis management. The timing was great, but the delivery was a bit off mark.