PR Crisis Solution: Love Beats Lawsuits

In the previous post I related how a local DJ told the  world I was the worst PR person in the world.

I called my friend Jim, the dining services director.  “Did you hear Ange pummel us yesterday?”

“Yeah.  That was bad. Is it true you’re the worst PR director in the world?”

“I am if I don’t fix this,” I said.    I told him what I needed.  He said it would be tricky but it could be done.

Next I called Big Ange after he was off the air. “This is Dennis Miller.”

There was a silence, then a quiet, “Listen I’m really sorry about yesterday.  I shouldn’t have –“

“No problem, Ange.  But I would like you to do something for me.”  I invited him to take a tour of Elmira College.  To his credit, he agreed.  We set it for the next day.  I didn’t want too much time to go by.

I met Ange outside our building and gave him a quick tour of our offices.  The women were thrilled to meet him and he was careful to apologize to everyone, at the same time playing up on his on-air image. He took song requests which he promised he would dedicate to each requester.

 I took him to meet our president who pretended to be  mad. “What’s a guy your age calling yourself Big Ange?”

It took Ange by surprised and he stumbled for words.  Our president laughed, shook hands and said he was kidding.  “That was quite a drubbing you gave us the other day,”  he said.

Ange apologized.  We talked for about 15 minutes and left.  Ange was impressed.  He had met the college president, sat in his office.

I took the now mild-mannered DJ to the dining hall for the big moment.  On the air, Ange talked about three things – music, women and food. When I gave the signal, our dining services director entered grandly from the kitchen,  followed by two staff bearing a six foot sub.  Ange was at a loss for words.

I took photos of Big Ange, Jim and the six-foot sub.  After lunch he left he thanked me profusely.  The photo and article I wrote was in the daily paper the next day, making him a local print star.

That morning Ange spent most of his show talking about what a wonderful place EC was.  He mentioned secretaries by name.  He talked about meeting the president.  He talked about the six foot sub.  In fact, for the next month,  Ange found a reason to mention Elmira College and what a great place it was.

Whatever negative publicity we got with his snow day rant, we made it back a hundred times over with “The Big Ange Tour of EC.”  Ange’s unpaid, unsolicited endorsement of EC, and the way he personalized the campus, was worth tens of thousands of dollars in free publicity.

Sometimes you do have to stand your ground and fight back.  Most of the time there’s a better way to correct things—like forgiveness and a six foot sub.


9 responses to “PR Crisis Solution: Love Beats Lawsuits

  1. Pingback: NO Bull » Blog Archive » PR Crisis Solution: Love Beats Lawsuits

  2. Great story,

    Totally not what I expected to come next! But, it gave me an idea.


  3. Jamie,
    Now you have me intrigued. When you can, please share your idea.

  4. Great story — thanks for sharing. A little kindness can go a long way.

    It’s nice to see someone be proactive instead of just going back to his/her office and stewing (usually what I end up doing).

  5. Very nice ending 🙂 Great work!

  6. D.W., thanks for the note. I, too, have stewed.
    Brad, thank you.

  7. I think this is a great story that really proves how rational thinking and unorthodox ideas can pay off! The way you handled this situation was brilliant…I will take this kind of thinking with me into my future career (hopefully in public relations).

    I attend Ithaca College and write a blog on crisis PR for one of my classes. I referenced your story in my last post to inform readers about different but effective ways to resolve a crisis…check it out! Thanks for the idea!

  8. Hey, Kit, thanks for nice comment and referencing my story. I did see a spike in hits. I’ll definitely check out your blog. Good luck on your path to a career in PR.

  9. We to had the similiar experience. They give lots of aid and leave you with a great impression of the school. We loved the school to but BEWARE of everyhing your told and shown. Do you homework before signing on the dotted line.

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