Crisis management: How the Hallmark Channel handled a public relations nightmare.

Public relations and crisis management services.


The Hallmark Channel messed up big time. Several days ago, they aired a commercial from a wedding-planning website that shows the wedding of two women — who kiss — which outraged two conservative groups, who worked up petitions to convince Hallmark to yank the commercial. The groups cited the “gay agenda,” whatever that might be.

As soon as Hallmark caved to the demand, social media lit up in a firestorm of criticism. What Hallmark did not realize is that most Americans support the LGBT community, and they let the Hallmark Channel know about it. Hallmark’s CEO stepped in to announce a reversal of the earlier move and invited the wedding-planning site to resume its advertising. According to NBC News:

Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, said in a statement Sunday, “We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused,” and said the executives who made the decision to initially pull the ad had been “agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused.”

NBC News quoted Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management as saying:

“Hallmark moved very quickly to reverse their decision, and it’s unusual where you see a company make a big decision like this and then reverse the decision so quickly. This also really reflects how powerful social media is today.”

And that is key to crisis management; get the mistake handled before it causes damage to the brand. And the bottom line.

I have no idea whether Mr. Perry consulted with someone about the best way to handle this PR goof, but if your company or organization needs an experienced crisis management and public relations expert, we have Mike Branom on staff and he’s ready to help. All you have to do is contact us and Mike will be on the job.

A side note to CEO Perry: If you made that reversal decision on your own, congratulations! You clearly have excellent judgment.

Click to read the NBC News article.


About Michael McKown

Avatar photoJournalist, specialty magazine editor/publisher for 22 years, entrepreneur, co-founder of America's largest working dog organization, producer/director, and co-founder of Ghostwriters Central in 2002.