The haste of organisations to avoid criticism has been spotted by journalists, who now use the PR industry’s thoughtless “apologise and dump” strategy to create even more public criticism.
This appears to be what happened with the New Zealand Herald’s ‘sexist Santa’ story. The Auckland Santa parade organisers unceremoniously dumped their long-term Santa provider who said he wouldn’t hire women to be Santa.
The first interview with a hapless unremarkable Santa business was a “gotcha” – intended to create an easy gender-controversy from the iconic event. The complaints from predictable special interests had not even started when the organisers told the Herald they would flick the Santa company over its comments.
This news gave the Herald its next headline, manufacturing a predictable nationwide outrage against the “PC-gone-mad” response.
The Herald got 10 days of outrage and at least five stories worthy of click-bait fodder (Santa is sexist, Santa sacked, ‘PC mad’ parade organisers, columnist criticism of parade organisers) and the circle completed with Santa reinstated).
The Herald struck the gold they sought in the first interview. But the outcome was given to them by the naïve over-reaction of the parade organisers.
It was the organiser’s hasty and shallow response which gave the Herald a Christmas gift that kept on giving.