Be it crisis communication, media relations or simply a great spin on a boring old story, PR agencies are known for always being on the ball.
That’s probably also why global PR agency Edelman found itself in a pickle when Lisa Kovitz, executive vice president and media relations expert in Edelman’s New York office called Robin William’s death an “opportunity”.
The PR firm has since apologised for the post saying that it was not the firms “intent to capitalise on the passing of a great actor who contributed so much.” To Kovitz’ defense, her heart was probably in the right place. But, the execution left much room for improvement.
We apologize to anyone we offended with our post. We did not intend to capitalize on the passing of a great actor who contributed so much.
— Edelman PR (@EdelmanPR) August 14, 2014
Here’s what she said in the post:
“As we mourn the loss of Robin Williams to depression, we must recognise it as an opportunity to engage in a national conversation. His death yesterday created a carpe diem moment for mental health professionals and those people who have suffered with depression and want to make a point about the condition and the system that treats it. There’s a very careful line they need to walk so as to not seem exploitive of a terrible situation but at the same time, it is a national teachable moment that shouldn’t be ignored. (We too are balancing that line with this post.)”
Unfortunately, the article upset many of William’s fans. One Erin Blaskie called the firm callous for “using someone’s death as an opportunity to position [the agency] as the PR company to walk potential clients through the best way to benefit from this conversation.”
Meanwhile another, Clive Tucker, said: “I’m left feeling that content like this serves to prove what a cold, consumption driven, empty world gutter-PR is complicit in creating – and that’s the root cause of so much depression.
Others have also labeled the post below the belt and “incredibly poor timing”.
@EdelmanPR "did not intend to capitalize" so why write a blog post highlighting his death? I know you're never going to reply to this.
— Tyler Hurst (@tdhurst) August 14, 2014
— Sonal Moraes (@sonalmoraes) August 14, 2014
— American Think Tank (@USA_ThinkTank) August 14, 2014
@edelmanpr pr spin disguised as an insincere apology? You've given other PR firms great fodder to write about online blunders. Great work!
— Hal Lublin™ (@hallublin) August 14, 2014
(Photo courtesy: Robin Williams Facebook fan page)