Scandals and Second Chances

July 12, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The public forgives some indiscretions, while others stick.

Sam Chapman is CEO of Empower Public Relations and author of "The No-Gossip Zone." He joined ABC7 to talk about recent hot topics and what all of us can learn from them.

Chapman discusses lessons we can take away from stories like New York politicians Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner, both running for office again, and Paula Deen.


Q: Is there a lesson we can take away from these stories and apply to our life?
A genuine and sincere apology will take you far. Originally Paula Deen was a no-show for the TODAY show; had she given a contrite and concise apology the first time around there would have been less backlash. Her apologies on YouTube come off as insincere since she was apologizing on her own terms.

Q: Is honesty the best policy when dealing with your own scandal?
Honesty IS the best policy when it comes to surviving a scandal. Attempting to cover up details that are bound to become public will only cause the rumors to fester.

Q: How do you repair your image/trust if facing a similar regret or embarrassment (ie. infidelity or caught criticizing a boss)
The first step managing an image crisis is to come out with all the information right away and to rip off the band-aid. Most media scandals occur when information is slowly leaked, which gives the story a fresh news cycle.
It is imperative to take full responsibility for your actions. Paula Deen played the victim during her TODAY Show appearance and it added fuel to the fire. Rather than take responsibility and seek forgiveness she tried to point the finger at others.
Sincerity and contrition are the keys to successfully receiving the forgiveness of the American public after a crisis.
The only thing Paula Deen could have done to prevent this from happening, other than lying in her deposition, would have been to have her brother settle the case against his restaurant before her deposition was taken.
Paula Deen and her brother may have consulted their lawyers about this case and not their PR advisors. That is a common mistake made by famous people who may not realize how fragile the public trust can be.

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