“I have to apologize”
Probably one of the most difficult phrases for a public figure to say while, when sincere, one of the most powerful statements to manage a, shall we say, unfortunate situation.
Steve Harvey is a humorous entertainer with a long history in show business including hosting Family Feud and having a daily talk show. He recently hosted the 2015 Miss Universe pageant and made one of the most horrific mistakes in recent televisions history — he announced the wrong winner. After declaring Miss Colombia as winner and her being crowned, Harvey apologized, then stated that Miss Philippines was actually the winner.
“Listen, folks. Let me just take control of this. This is exactly what’s on the card. I will take responsibility for this. It was my mistake.”
This is an actual photo of the card.
Some people have stated that the card was easy to read and that this error was due to carelessness, unprofessionalism and other unflattering reasons.
Others have taken the opposite route, stating the card was poorly designed. Eric Thomas went so far as to actually redesign the card, which included branding elements in addition to a well-justified re-layout.
Regardless of whether you believe the card was at fault or whether Harvey did or did not do his job, the man has begun on the path of damage control with taking the first right step in showing his integrity. Integrity is defined as adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
Harvey admitted to making a mistake, and if you’ve seen his apology, I believe it’s genuine, an honest mistake if you will. He’s not blaming anyone or anything for the error. He’s taking it on himself. In addition, he also apologized again on social media after the slaughter began.
- Harvey has taken the best first step: owning up to the mistake and taking a lot of potential wind out of the sails of haters. He’s apologized on televisions and on social media, however…
- …he and his team will need to continue to monitor these forums, especially social media. This doesn’t mean jumping in to actively address a lot of the comments. It means keeping an eye out for any new twists that might add to, or complicate the situation, such as inaccuracies or speculations that start to get traction. A sex scandal involving Harvey and at least one of the contestants or tiffs with pageant management would be easy fodder here. If something like this would occur…
- …it is imperative that Harvey set the record straight, succinctly, and immediately. The goal is to nip this sort of drivel in the bud before it creates additional problems. As with the initial apology post, active AND constant rebuttal should be avoided or it can give the appearance of trying to hide something or over convince.
- Next, if possible and reasonable, Harvey could share ideas or plans to ensure this error does not happen again in the future. Would a 5 second
delay in live broadcasting help so if the wrong name is read, the network could be prepared to go to a commercial? What about conferring with the judges before the official announcement? How about having the official winner’s name, and ONLY the winner’s name, being hand delivered by an assistant in a sealed envelope right before the announcement?
- Finally, with Harvey’s reputation for being humorous, he needs to be prepared to poke fun at himself and take some ribbing for this. A bit of self- deprecation can go a long way without minimizing what some could consider a huge and weighty mistake. Let’s face it, the memes have already started.
Considering that Mark Shapiro, one of the producers for the 2016 Miss Universe pageant, stated, “I definitely want him back, and I would hate to see him not come back. He’s going to want a shot to redeem himself.” I think Harvey in on the right trail with handling this situation. What’s your take on this?