In a recent post we offered Vogue Magazine a four-step crisis management plan to dig the publication out of its ongoing PR crisis. As many media watchers know, Vogue published a spectacularly ill-timed, fawning profile of Syrian First Lady Asma Asad, whose husband’s regime continues to lead a violent and murderous campaign to crush popular dissent in his country. To date, the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria estimates that nearly 800 people have been killed in the crackdown, and 9,000 are in detention.
Vogue’s leadership apparently has taken a very patient wait-and-see approach to managing the PR fallout from glamorously featuring a family with the blood of thousands of citizens on its hands. That was until yesterday, when Vogue executed the mother of all careless crisis public relations tactics.
Vogue deleted the Asma story from its website.
Yes, Vogue Magazine “disappeared” the article, much like Syria’s government “disappears” citizens who protest the Asad regime. Instead of smart crisis management, Vogue’s literal “nothing to see here” approach feeds precariously into an all-too-easy-to-script media narrative.
The elementary failure of Vogue’s PR strategy is that the Syria story simply will not go away, and not for a long time. As long as the Arab Spring continues, as long as Syrian forces use violence to counter protests, as long as Syrian secret police get caught on camera beating and torturing citizens in full public view, Vogue will not escape this crisis PR nightmare of its own making.