Goldie Hawn is an American treasure. While the blonde bombshell has certainly slowed down her performing over the last decade, the woman has been making us chuckle from Laugh-In, to Private Benjamin (Philly shout-out!) to Overboard. And I don’t care what the critics say Overboard is a CLASSIC. Last week, Goldie had a bit of a social media crisis. She created a monstrous controversy when she posted a photo of herself with the incredibly anti-gay Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. “Met the wonderful President of Nigeria @JGoodlucktweets today in #Davos,” Hawn tweeted on Thursday, adding the image of herself shaking hands with Jonathan at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Within hours, the Wildcats star was deluged by upset fans on twitter. As the gays of the Twittersphere chastised Hawn – this Bird on a Wire launched into a smart and heartfelt series of mea culpas. Later, when addressing the press, Hawn again took full culpability. “First of all, it had every right to cause an uproar. I had no idea,” Hawn said, noting she “literally hadn’t looked at the news” because she’s been traveling and writing a book. She went on to profess that’s “no excuse” and she was “absolutely appalled” when she found out about Jonathan’s anti-gay views. “This has nothing to do with my philosophy.” Hawn’s actions and response prove something we’ve long suspected about social media crises: When they do happen, quick decisive action that includes honest answers and sincere apologies will nullify the situation quickly. While Hawn deleted the tweet, she directly apologized to a number of her Twitter followers. This personal effort is always rewarded. This approach, along with her obvious concern and regret, placated outraged fans. Hawn also continued to empathize and sympathize, going as far to call Jonathan’s anti-gay actions “full of hatred.” “It breaks my heart because I have my own personal feelings about this,” Hawn said. “This is man’s inhumanity to man of the first order. It’s more than ridiculous. It’s barbaric.” One could argue that Hawn’s flub has actually been a bit of a boon. How many of her followers and fans were aware of Jonathan’s philosophy? Hawn is not the only Baby Boomer who lacks a full understanding of the situation in Nigeria (note that 68 people FAVORITED the tweet – eek!). Hawn’s stumble put the issue on the front burner, got her a little press and reaffirmed her status as a progressive thinker. I wasn’t following Hawn on Twitter before – and now I am. Who knew Goldie was so political? So the next time you inadvertently tweet a selfie of yourself and an international monster, follow these Goldie-approved steps:
- React – Doing nothing is social death, activate your social media crisis communication plan immediately. If you don’t have one, call me – affordable rates for Kurt Russell’s girlfriends.
- Delete – Remove the offending commentary. While SOMEONE has a screenshot, there is no reason to keep the bad news up there for all eyes to see. Do not delete your account though – do not run and hide. Stand your ground and address the crowd.
- Apologize – Start saying you’re sorry, mean it, say it a lot, say it loudly. Don’t just say
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it to the press, say it to the people. Respond on your social channels to the pitchfork-and-torch-wielding masses.
- Rinse & Repeat – See #3. Repeat until your fingers fall off. It will seem like an uphill battle, but eventually the clamor will slow.
- Empathize – Show your community that you understand why they are upset. Make sure you “get it.” Continue dialogue and demonstrate your compassion, intelligence and insight.
- Learn – Look back on the situation and figure out how to avoid it again. In this case, perhaps Goldie should read the Times a bit more and Variety a bit less.
Now that humans have the ability to send out their thoughts and experiences without them going through a PR scrub, we are going to see more and more of these misunderstandings and firestorms. It is only human to, occasionally, do something you will regret, but when it leaks out via social media, you need to swallow hard and begin the reconciliation process. You’ll take a little bit of a licking, but if you handle it appropriately, you’ll come out with a clean reputation and a lesson learned. Also – The First Wives Club is the best movie EVER and the only reason they didn’t make a sequel is because Hollywood is a sexist town. There, I said it.