What Public Relations Students Can Take Away From Kim Kardashian West’s Shapewear Line Scandal
By: Crystal Kem
On June 25, 2019, Kim Kardashian West announced on Twitter that she would be launching an all-inclusive shapewear line under the name “Kimono”. West was instantly hit with claims of cultural appropriation by activists for naming her shapewear line kimono, a traditional Japanese garment worn on special occasions. Here’s what public relations students can learn from West’s crisis:
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH!
The first step in every PR plan should be research! If West and her team simply did research on what a kimono was, they would realize how inappropriate it was to associate a traditional garment with something so intimate. When researching, it’s important to be proactive in order to avoid potential crises.
2. In a crisis, ACT FAST!
On July 1, 2019, nearly one week after she received backlash, West announced that she would relaunch her shapewear line under a new name. During that week, West was silent and did not respond to any of the backlash.
In a crisis, the timing of your apology is important because acting fast will allow your organization or company to be in control of your message. Especially with social media, it’s important to utilize your platform to control your message so the crisis does not get out of hand. Being silent and passive during a crisis can draw out the recovery process, so act fast and be aggressive.
3. Be an OPEN SYSTEM!
On Aug 26, 2019, two months after the incident, West announced the new name of her shapewear line, SKIMS. It’s important for brands to act as an open system rather than a closed system. If West’s shapewear line ran on a closed system, she would have ignored the backlash and kept the name Kimono. Since West listened to her audience and changed the name of her shapewear line to SKIMS, it showed that her brand is an open system and has a two-way flow of communication with their audience.
As public relations specialists, it’s important to be proactive to avoid potential crises, act fast when facing a crisis and be an open system so you can establish a two-way flow of communication with your publics. Learn from West’s mistakes and implement these tips in your crisis communication plans!
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