The Art of Apologizing

Public relations professionals should always be on their toes in case a crisis hits. Companies will make mistakes, but is how you handle the problem more telling than the problem itself?

In 2015, Apple Music announced its three-month free trial of the music streaming app. Artists were extremely upset because for each customer’s three-month free trial they would forego royalties (money paid when a song is played). Taylor Swift penned an open letter explaining that this was unfair. Within 24 hours, Apple Music apologized and reversed their decision, announcing it would pay artists royalties during the free trial.

Even though it seemed Apple Music maybe have been taking advantage of artists, it was quick to accept their faults and rectify the situation. Apple Music is now an extremely popular music streaming app that did not let its early PR crisis define it.

According to Forbes, there are seven tips to improve apologies during a PR crisis. Understand the sentiment, be sincere, address the issue quickly, remember who is affected, use common language, communicate with the public and apologize on video.

Apple Music understood the issue and sincerely apologized swiftly. I think it is a great example of a good PR apology. Taking responsibility and fixing the issue are more important than pointing fingers and blaming others.

A more recent example of a PR crisis is YouTuber Logan Paul’s falling out with the public. Logan Paul is an extremely popular YouTube personality with 15 million followers. During a trip to Japan, he filmed a video in what is called the “Suicide Forest” and captured footage of a man who had hanged himself. It appeared to many that he was poking fun at suicide and showing disrespect. Many celebrities and influentials expressed outrage for his behavior and he found himself in a PR crisis.

In his initial apology released on Twitter, he was slammed again for not understanding the severity of his actions. He did not apologize to the victim, he more or less spoke highly of himself and his popularity. According to Forbes, sincerity and humbleness is an important part of apologizing in a PR crisis. Paul failed to do so which created even more issues for him. Paul did finally apologize on video and create a mini-documentary about suicide prevention, but will that repair the damage that his apology came off as insincere and self-serving?

I believe apologies do wonders in a PR crisis. But the way you apologize says everything about your company or client. Sincerity, understanding and timing make the public realize that though you made a mistake, you can recover.

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