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A Live Lesson in Crisis Communications



On a scale of 1 to 10 for cringe-inducing, this one ranked a 20.

Miss Universe host Steve Harvey broke the number one rule of running a pageant: he read the wrong name. His mistake caused Miss Colombia, the first runner-up, to be crowned Miss Universe, even if only for a few minutes.

What came next is difficult to watch (though millions have done so repeatedly online). Harvey pointed out his mistake, and the crown was awkwardly transferred to Miss Philippines, the actual winner. Contestants and viewers were stunned, and more than a few were very, very angry.

Still, through his embarrassment, Harvey managed to give a crash-course in crisis communications. With millions watching both live and on TV, what Harvey did next taught everyone what to do when you’ve made a very bad (and very public) mistake.

What did he do? He took responsibility, he apologized, and then moved on. “Listen, folks. Let me just take control of this,” he said amid boos from the audience. “This is exactly what’s on the card. I will take responsibility for this. It was my mistake. I have to apologize.” He also publicly apologized on Twitter.

He didn’t blame the bright lights, the people who printed the card, or the person running the teleprompter .  He simply admitted the mistake and did his best to rectify the situation, as painful as it was. It’s a lesson that many people in the public eye should know, but one that so few put into practice.


–Team Scott

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