That famous punchline uttered by Gilda Ratner’s character Emily Litella on Saturday Night Live decades ago is not unlike what Donna Karan’s and Dave Ratner’s recent apologies sounded like. Karan, a famous fashion designer, and Ratner, a popular Western Massachusetts business owner, quickly realized they had misspoken or acted in a way that didn’t properly convey their true beliefs.
Or so they say.
Karan apologized “from the bottom of my heart’’ and said she is embarrassed about remarks she made last week that suggested sexual harassment victims were ‘‘asking for it’’ by the way they dressed in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
After experiencing a huge backlash from his customer base for appearing in a photo with President Trump at a signing ceremony, Ratner claims he wasn’t aware of the full impact on Obamacare of what Trump was signing. He has also said he had no idea that Trump would also order the federal health insurance subsidies be cut.
So often, we are called on to counsel clients who have been the victims of circumstance, luck or misfortune. Perhaps it was someone else who did or said something questionable. Perhaps it was single leader’s actions that an organization is now having to explain.
Both Karan and Ratner are essentially claiming “temporary insanity”—an excuse that rarely proves effective in the short term. Here’s a few ways you and/or your organization can avoid a similar self-imposed crisis:
The issue with the “temporary insanity” excuse is credibility. Are Karan and Ratner apologizing because they really regret their actions/words or because the past week has been bad for business? Whatever their true intentions, it will be ultimately be up to the consumer to decide whether their apologies did the trick…or not.