Read about Michael Strahan’s unexpected departure from Live! With Kelly and Michael told by the PRSSA Blog Team.
By: Rachel Mooney
Often in the media we see companies take both proactive and reactive measures to avoid potential PR crises that could hurt their brand’s image. These measures may be necessary after an executive makes offensive comments, a social media post is not well received by the public, a product does not fulfill its promised purpose, or any other company slip-ups. Crisis management teams must be prepared to hold up their brand’s reputation at any time in today’s 24-hour news cycle.
What happens though, when that brand is a television network or a talk show personality?
If you’ve been on any entertainment news outlet over the past week, you might have read the opinions surrounding the controversy with Live! With Kelly and Michael. For those who haven’t, check out one of the many articles covering the story here, which discusses the announcement that Michael Strahan is leaving Live! for a full-time spot on Good Morning America (GMA). Within hours of this story breaking to the public, countless news outlets and social media platforms were filled with opinions on the matter.
Ripa’s absence from the following show only fueled the media buzz. The reaction to her absence was mixed. Many called her a “diva,” and said that she was “throwing a tantrum.” Others were quick to defend Ripa’s actions after being “blindsided” by ABC executives and her co-host. Some critiqued Strahan, who is now leaving Live! months earlier than previously reported, for keeping his colleague in the dark over his departure.
In a matter of one afternoon, the reputations of Ripa, Strahan, and ABC were all being questioned for how the situation unraveled.
As Ripa’s upper management, should ABC executives have awarded her 26-year company loyalty with the courtesy of advanced notice on Strahan’s departure?
The network’s immediate apology leads us to believe they know they dropped the ball on their communication with Ripa. Upon her return to the show on Tuesday morning, Ripa stated, “apologies have been made and the best thing to come out of all of this, you guys, is that our parent company has assured me that ‘Live!’ is a priority.”
This statement and affirmation that Live! is a priority is pivotal in ABC’s reputation management. It shows that the network is taking responsibility for poorly handling the announcement, in addition to placing attention on another stakeholder—the viewers who are invested in the talk show and ABC brand.
For an entertainment personality, your perceived character and reputation will make or break your onscreen success. Although people were quick to judge Ripa’s absence, she knew that in order to represent herself in the best light, she needed to regroup for a few days. In my opinion, her monologue was strong and represented her professional brand rather well. She stood up for herself, all while maintaining poise and a congratulatory attitude toward co-host Michael Strahan. Her reputation took some heat throughout the prior week, but she performed effective damage control with her authentic response to the situation.
Across all professional industries, the company’s bottom line is affected by employee satisfaction and loyalty. For high-profile brands like ABC, however, employee dissatisfaction is broadcasted to an entire nation. Ripa clearly pointed the finger in her executives’ direction and acknowledged her dissatisfaction when she stated that the entire situation started “a much greater conversation about communication and consideration, and most importantly, respect in the workplace.”
Apologies were made, the controversy seems to be somewhat settling, and ratings are actually booming with the heightened media coverage. However, this morning show shake-up still proves to be an example of how miscommunication between management, employees, and other stakeholders can hurt a brand’s reputation. If the crisis management team is not fully prepared to extinguish a controversial spark before it becomes a firestorm, then the company may be in for a public relations disaster.