Since DKNY’s response to the almost-crisis situation they beautifully handled last week, they’ve been faced with an outcry of anger, disappointment and backlash for not donating the full 100K to the YMCA, as originally requested by Humans of New York. Here is just a small taste of what DKNY is experiencing on their Facebook page:
So what should DKNY do?
Honestly, it depends on them. If they want to match the donation and calm the cries, then they could, though this could potentially lead to more banter about how they only did it because everyone made them. The fact of the matter is, DKNY handled the initial mistake beautifully. They immediately corrected the error, issued an apology, complimented the photographer and decided to make a donation of 25K to the YMCA. The initial request for a donation of 100K was a little extreme, *in my opinion*, and one would have hoped that the brand would have been praised for their quick response and rectification of the situation AND for their generous donation. Unfortunately, such was not the case.
Though I talk often of the “court of public opinion” and as it’s important to consider this court prior to and during any crisis response/management, brands can also not succumb to bullying when they’ve done everything in their power to sincerely right a wrong. In my opinion, DKNY is doing right by standing by their initial response and decision.
Let’s not forget that the positive end to this entire situation remains that the YMCA has received $100,000 in donations and that Humans of New York were not only righted for the wrong done, but have also gained exponentially in brand-awareness.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.
Marc Lichtenstein says
Excellent post and analysis. I really like the way you compared public opinion to the bullying of brands.
Melissa Agnes says
Thanks Marc! I'm glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Dave Zan says
It's an interesting dilemma; on one hand, as you said, it can give some (or even many) people the impression they can "bully" a brand into giving in – even if it's for a charitable cause. OTOH and as noticed, DKNY is still being criticized for not doing more than what's expected in spite of their (attempts at) amends.
It's essentially a catch-22, damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't situation. Making things tougher is the "crisis" still continues even after a week, raising the possibilities that: a) it might go even longer, and b) more might need to be done to (hopefully and finally) stop it.
Like you said, though, it's ultimately up to DKNY.
Melissa Agnes says
Glad to have you back here, commenting!
What DKNY is now facing is most certainly not a crisis, but an issue. They would not be able to simply donate the funds now, as that would simply encourage more banter about how they only did it because the people made them. However, they certainly could get clever and strategic and turn this entire situation into a positive… though time is running out on this option. We shall see what they do!
KC Saling says
The public has said that HONY could have sued DKNY, and instead they're asking for charity. Let's flip that logic and remember that DKNY never had to donate ANY money, that they could have gone to court and their lawyers could have probably rectified the case pretty quickly. We're seeing a brand being punished for taking a kinder, more human approach to dealing with a crisis. Social advocates are going to find less and less luck getting brands to play nicely with them if they resort to essentially extorting money from them, even if it is for charity.
Melissa Agnes says
Kristin, I couldn't have said it better myself. Yours are my sentiments exactly! Thanks for the great comment 🙂
MD McClinton says
Must disagree with you about whether DKNY, “handled the mistake beautifully.” Had a store owner or individual, “mistakenly,” sold DKNY product or “knock-off product,” must wonder if DKNY attorneys and the company itself would have been satisfied with a partial settlement. If I read the original story correctly, DKNY chose not to pay the photographer to use the work. Any subsequent error in association with the use of those photographs might seem, “oddly convenient,” for DKNY. Fairness and positive brand management would seem to dictate full reimbursement or an agreement between DKNY and the photographer.
Disgruntled DKNY customers and/or the photographers fans are very clear in their social media comments; DKNY did not, “handle the mistake properly.” DKNY can either listen and do more damage control or endure the drip of negativity. Questions remains, how much damage or money is this, “mistake,” worth to DKNY?
Isn't it wonderful…bribery by Facebook. The photographer is allowed to make a totally unreasonable demand and DKNY gets skewered in Facebook regardless of its actions. Welcome to the Brave New World.
Frank Gainsford says
This is a tough issue, and there are many things that could go wrong. the fact that they (DKNY) took some action very early and were deemed to be doing the right thing, did wonders to avert the potential of their issue going viral.
The friendly but professional manner was also a vital component, which could have been easily mis managed and taken up the wrong way with the story going viral saying how they were bullied into submission. This would also be a disaster, which was really well managed by the guys at DKNY.
One really does need to study posts that have gone viral, and evaluate the reasons why, so that you may be prepared to prevent a catastrophe if one of your posts or a post about you by an unhappy customer goes viral.
Very few people that I have spoken to have a disaster management plan in place, and none of my customers has ever contemplated this before I discussed it with them. One customer actually got so upset about the possibility of posts going viral that they closed down their face book account, and I had great difficulty in convincing them that having a Facebook business page was good for business, and boosted their web sites SEO rankings and SERP (Search Engine Results Pages)
I forwarded this post to them, and I have had some positive response… thanx for the post.
Melissa Agnes says
You’re very correct that all companies, big and small, absolutely need to understand what risks the online world present to their business, and how to protect themselves from, and prepare for these risks.
One important thing to remember the next time you’re faced with a client or colleague who is so frightened at the thought of what negativity could take shape on their social media accounts that they contemplate closing them, is that whether they’re on social media or not, doesn’t make any difference in whether or not they can be attacked on social media, or anywhere else online. It simply helps in their response and management of the attacks – not to mention all the marketing perks that come along with being active on social!
Thanks for forwarding this post off to your networks, Frank! I appreciate it and hope they find value from it.
P.S. If ever you come across businesses who don’t have an online crisis plan, feel free to send them my way. Online crisis planning and prevention is one of my specialized services! 😉