Even the biggest companies and brands can find themselves in the midst of a sticky situation or PR meltdown. With bad news spreading like wildfire, it's important companies get ahead of a media meltdown quickly and authentically. We get that the urge to hide under a rock when something goes wrong, but we believe using video is the best way to right corporate wrongs. A poorly executed apology can alienate your customers and cost your reputation, but an effective video apology strategy? It can rebuild trust in your organization and improve things for the better! Let's see how brands have used video to apologize and what we can learn from it.
1. The failed launch of the Affordable Healthcare Act website
It's not every day you see the (then) leader of the free world own up to his missteps. In 2013, President Obama had a lot riding on the launch of the new Healthcare.gov website to promote the new Affordable Healthcare Act. When things got off to a less than stellar start with a website that just didn't work, people started to lose confidence in his new legislation.
The solution? A great PR move on Obama's part was to attack the problem with humor. He appeared on a fake interview "Between 2 Ferns" with Zach Galifinakis. The video went viral with 23.4 million views, reaching an entirely new young demographic, all while repairing the website mess.
2. Addressing racial bias within Starbucks
In the age of the cell phone, there's a high chance that your corporate blunders will be filmed for the world to see and spread on social media. That's exactly what happened to Starbucks in April when two black men were kicked out of Starbucks in Philadelphia having done nothing wrong. People started accusing Starbucks of racism and demanded explanations.
The Solution? President and CEO of Starbucks Kevin Johnson showed that he took full responsibility for the unfortunate event and posted a video apology to the Starbucks website. What's key about this example is that he handled the situation as best and didn't waste any time. He appeared several times on television programs to address the situation taking full responsibility each time.
3. What not to do: United Airlines CEO's less-than-stellar apology
United Airlines overbooking fiasco was a clear lesson in how not to issue a company apology! When a passenger was filmed being dragged off a full plane, the disturbing video took the internet by storm and outraged the public. First, United's CEO Oscar Munoz issued a defensive public statement and only days later did he turn to a video apology.
Lesson learned? There's such a thing as too little too late. Turning to video as a last resort looks self serving. Munoz's apology came across as insincere and monotone, coming off as unauthentic which only made things worse. When issuing a video apology early on your intentions are less likely to be misconstrued. It's still important to come across genuine and as unscripted as possible.
4. When a famous YouTuber vlogger takes things too far
Logan Paul is one of YouTube's most influential vloggers with 17 millions subscribers and now one of the most controversial. As an influencer with a large young audience, people were outraged with his horrible slip in judgment in filming a suicide victim in a Japanese forest.
The solution? Many people called for YouTube to drop the content creator after the graphic video was uploaded. Countless op-eds and think pieces discussed 'how far is too far' and if the pursuit of views has corrupted platforms like YouTube. Logan issued an apology (although not perfect) on YouTube that seemed genuine enough for his followers to forgive him and move on. He even gained two million followers in the process.
5. An American grocer chain steps up to the plate
The US grocer Whole Foods came under fire when people discovered they were being overcharged with improperly weighed fruits and vegetables.
The solution? the co-CEOs of the company, Walter Robb and John Mackey got in front of the camera (in one of the store aisles) and owned up to the misstep by explaining what went wrong and how they plan on fixing it. What's works well in this apology is that they're clearing sorry about the issue. It's clear their intention was never to rip off customers.
- Give a detailed account of the situation
- Acknowledge the hurt or damage done (if any)
- Take full responsibility, don't blame others
- Recognize your role or the company's in the situation
- Include a statement of regret
- Promise that it won't happen again
- Provide a solution for moving forward