Steve Harvey Has lwaAys Been Bad News For Women: Ruining The Miss Universe Pageant Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

There are PR lessons galore in the events surrounding last Sunday’s Miss Universe gaffe, when host Steve Harvey mistakenly named Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, the winner. 

After she had received her crown, flowers, hugs and several minutes of wild applause Harvey stepped forward to make the most awkward of statements: “OK, folks, uh—there’s—I have to apologize…” The actual winner was Miss Philippines.

Even worse, because Miss Colombia does not speak English fluently, she was forced to stand onstage in confusion while the crown was removed from her head. It was an unmitigated public relations disaster.

But now what? The responses of all parties in the aftermath are providing us with solid lessons for entrepreneurial PR.

To Harvey’s credit, he apologized immediately and accepted full responsibility for the mistake he acknowledged was entirely his. In his haste, however, he misspelled the names of both countries, referring to “Miss Philippians and Miss Columbia” incorrectly. The misspellings made the message appear to disrespect both the contestants and the countries, which added even more fuel to the bad PR fire.
Steve Harvey Has lwaAys Been Bad News For Women:
Ruining The Miss Universe Pageant Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg
The lesson here: Careful writing and thinking is vital in crisis PR. Mistakes will happen, but when they do, your follow-up response will leave no margin for error.
Other current events reinforce this lesson as well: In data breach incidents, research shows that when organizations leap to announce the breach before gathering and ascertaining the facts, the cost of the damage is ultimately much higher than when an organization takes sufficient time to prepare a thorough and accurate response.

Another PR loser in the Miss Universe story is Donald Trump. Trump sold his ownership in the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants six months ago in the midst of his own PR crisis surrounding the statements he’d made about people from Mexico. OnTwitter TWTR +0.00% he managed to make the current situation about him, once again, by suggesting that Harvey’s screw-up wouldn’t have happened if he were still involved.

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