Lauralee Gilkey

Professional Apologizers: As PR people, “Do we apologize too much?”


I found the PR Daily News website some time ago and I find their articles very interesting. The articles come from the professionals themselves. They reflect on their work, the work of others, trends and much more. The field of PR is so vast that not one person can know EVERYTHING there is to. This site is a great resource for anyone in the field of PR, interested by it or pursuing it.

“Do we apologize too much?”

The PR Daily News published an article on March 23, 2012 asking PR professionals, “Do we apologize too much?” I was drawn into this article by the title alone. In our world today, we have tried to define this term, political correctness, but does anyone really know what is really politically correct anymore? It seems to me that anything that may be remotely insensitive to any given group can be considered politically incorrect. According to the article Nike, Oprah Winfrey and McDonalds all made public apologies within the past two weeks. Most recently, McDonalds was the apologetic one. McDonalds aired a radio ad making a comment to the effect of petting a pit bull can be dangerous. Almost automatically, a group support the pet lashed back at McDonalds. McDonalds quickly composed an apology and tweeted it; “We apologize for running a local ad insensitive in its mention of pit bulls. We didn’t mean to offend anyone and the ad is being pulled.”

Should McDonalds have apologized? The pit bull has been a target breed of dog, but McDonalds had no intention of ruining the reputation of the household pet. One PR Daily commenter, replied to the original article saying, “Thank goodness for all these [politically incorrect] comments, it keeps PR folks employed.” Public relations professionals are capable of far more than constructing effective apologies, but it is part of the job. PR people must defend their clients and if a client is under attack from any reason, the PR people must do what is best for their client’s organization. It is understandable that a client would want to protect their reputation, especially with social media; a good reputation can go bad in a matter of minutes.  So the PR people do what they need to do, and apologize, even though they may think it is ridiculous.

I do not understand how as a society, we became so sensitive. I understand there are just some things you cannot say, but just because you do not like hearing something doesn’t mean that you do not HAVE to hear it. Comedian, Bill Maher, asked this question in the New York Times, “When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like?” I agree with his idea. We have rights and morals, but things are getting out of hand. Celebrities, politicians and companies are constantly under fire for things that they said or someone representing them said. I think it is a waste of time to be apologizing constantly. The question is: how many good ideas and strategies have been thrown away because it may offend someone and how many more will be?

Source: PR Daily News: “Do we apologize too much?”