Crisis Management at Claire’s

Erik Bernstein communications, crisis communications, crisis management, crisis preparation, Crisis Prevention, crisis public relations, Crisis Response, media training, public relations, reputation management Leave a Comment

Don’t go corporate in a crisis

The blog post came Wednesday. Tatty Devine, a handmade jewelry company in England, posted photos of its own designs next to designs sold at international affordable jewelry retailer Claire’s. The response was explosive. More than 200 people commented before Tatty Devine closed the comments, and more than 2,000 tweets linking the post went out.

It wasn’t until Friday that Claire’s said anything about the matter, when the company posted this to its Facebook page: “Claire’s Stores, Inc. is a responsible company that employs designers, product developers and buyers, and works with many suppliers to provide innovative collections that bring customers all the latest fashion trends. As such, we take any allegations of wrong doing seriously. We are looking into the matters raised.” A shortened version went up on Twitter as well.

This quote, from a article by Matt Wilson, is an excellent example of a common crisis management mistake. To the folks making the big decisions at Claire’s, and certainly to their lawyers, this was a perfectly legitimate way to respond to potentially damaging allegations. To be honest, it wasn’t long ago that this would have been considered a solid response. Now, though, the public expects more – much more.

What was Claire’s response lacking? Only one of the cornerstones of modern crisis management – empathy. If the retailer had indeed accidentally come very close to emulating Tatty Devine designs, it only makes sense to issue an apology. Mind you, I’m not talking an admission of guilt, but saying something to the effect of, “We were as surprised as anyone to see these similarities, and apologize for the confusion. Once we get to the bottom of the situation, we’ll be happy to share more information,” would have helped lessen public outrage and positioned the company for a more thorough followup.

The BCM Blogging Team

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