A Tale of Two Apologies: Colbert’s Authenticity Works, Fyre’s Hype Fails

Katie Paine, CEO, Paine Publishing

Lord knows we don’t have to look far these days to find examples of people and organizations screwing up. So as tempting as it may be to pile onto Uber’s woes or the latest airline mess [see The Week in PR], we wanted to focus on the follow-up. What you do is very important, but so is how you respond, ie, the way people and brands say they’re sorry – or don’t.

First a tip of the hat to Josh Bernoff, who writes a wonderful daily blog called Without Bullshit (withoutbullshit.com). His examples of apology letters are models we can all learn from and use. If you can’t figure it out from the name, Bernoff is an advocate for plain speaking.

What I like most about his advice is that he urges us to say what we know we want to hear and what needs to be said. We’ve all seen corporate apologies so full of lawyer-induced double speak and passive tense obfuscation that even my cat knows they’re BS.
Fyre Festival
This brings us to the Fyre Festival -- an overhyped event set on an obscure island in the Bahamas that left hundreds of attendees who had paid thousands of dollars for tickets stranded with little food and fewer facilities.

Anyone seeing Fyre’s promotional slide deck (assuming the viewer was drug-free and sober at the time) should have at least suspected something based on the verbiage.

The ultimate irony was that concert organizers had paid Instagraminfluencershundreds of thousands of dollars to hype the festival.


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