The recent Duck Dynasty brouhaha is yet another example of PR ‘gurus’ missing the larger, business picture and focusing, instead, on image and reputation.
David E. Johnson’s blog is a perfect case in point.
Johnson argues that Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and A&E, the cable network that airs Robinson’s reality show, are deftly handling his hateful comments. He believes the pro Christian, anti-gay, comments resonate well with the show’s core viewers. Indeed, Johnson believes the media hype will actually attract new viewers.
I disagree. In fact, to borrow a broadcasting expression, I see the Duck Dynasty episode as little more than a Chick-fil-A re-run.
If you recall, the fast food chain’s president caused an uproar a few years back by making similar hate-filled comments (and citing the bible as the definitive source on such issues). In the immediate aftermath, Chick-fil-A experienced a series of highly publicized boycotts by pro-Gay groups and alienated countless employees and prospective customers.
We live in a highly polarized society, with fundamentalist religion serving as the jet fuel stimulating hateful words and deeds.
We’re also hamstrung by reactionary ‘leaders’ who pour gasoline on an already raging inferno by adding such inane comments as the one from Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor, vice presidential candidate and self-proclaimed hockey mom defended Robertson’s words by posting this on her Facebook page: ‘Free speech is an endangered species. Those intolerants hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.’ And, to think this woman could have been a heartbeat away from the presidency. Yikes!
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and the rabble-rousing talk show host, Geraldo Rivera, have made similar statements defending Robertson.
America needs to stop hating, and start cooperatin’, as Ms. Palin might say.
American business executives need to stay focused on the bottom line, and keep their personal religious views out of the discussion.
And, PR bloggers need to step back and realize that hate-mongering is NOT an image and reputation strategy. It’s a devisive, shameless short-term move that will only wreak long-term brand damage.