Holy Moly, Kenneth Cole-y. The tweet heard ’round the world yesterday was the Kenneth Cole PR nightmare that has, in my eyes, removed Kenneth Cole, and possibly the brand, from the hearts of many. Even my blackberry thinks Kenneth Cole is a joke-as I was writing this blog post on the way into the office, it kept autocorrecting “Kenneth Cole” to “Kenneth Coleslaw.” The @KennethColePR twitter account takes the cake on this Kenneth Cole fiasco.
My mother always said “think before you speak,” a valuable lesson that holds true even in the 140 character twitter world. Once it’s out there, it can’t be unsaid, even if you can delete it from your twitter account. Twitter is like the opposite of Las Vegas. While whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, whatever happens on Twitter can be re-tweeted, screen-shot, photo shopped, and be remembered and talked about for years to come. I bet that one day when colleges have online marketing curriculum, this will be in the text book in a chapter entitled “PR Nightmares” or taught in Common Sense 101.
Even though Kenneth Cole offered an apology, many are reluctant to accept.
Twitter is just the beginning of the PR nightmare Kenneth Cole has to deal with. Using backtype.com I looked into kennethcole.com. No comment necessary on the data.
So why can Miley Cyrus get away with a bong hit on video but Kenneth Cole can’t get excused for one bad tweet, despite years of activism, charitable causes, and having a career devoid of papparrazi-worthy nights out? Simple-expectation management. We expect certain things from people. Miley Cyrus is just ‘bein Miley’ when she acts out. Kenneth Cole? Not so much.
Part of Kenneth Cole’s personal branding involves being a thought leader and an activist. On his website, Kenneth Cole says “We at Kenneth Cole think to be aware is more important than what you wear.” He has an entire section of his website dedicated to organizations he supports, including Rock The Vote, Riverkeeper, Mentoring USA, and more.
While this twitter snafu will likely quiet down, this is probably not the Reaction that Kenneth Cole had in mind. Kenneth Cole made this statement:
“I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.”
I wouldn’t want to be in Kenneth’s Cole’s shoes..or handbags….or spring collection right now.
As the Online Marketing Specialist at Compete, Karen Costa specializes in the day-to-day online marketing functions for Compete.com-paid search, email marketing, social media, affiliate, etc. Before Karen joined the Compete team she was an online marketing coordinator for Bliss Spa and then worked for a couple of start ups. Karen says, "I'm not sure what I want to be when I grow up!" Find Karen on Twitter as vanillabean45 or connect with her on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencosta