Above: CNN responding to Papa John’s claims. Note: This is just an example of a video circulating. This does not mean I agree or disagree with CNN (otherwise, this would be a pretty hypocritical blog post, wouldn’t it?).
Dear company representatives (especially those in food and consumer goods),
Allow me to give you some professional advice: Stop commenting on controversial issues! Especially if they aren’t directly related to your product line.
Yes, I know, you are family-owned companies in most cases, but learn from the Chick-Fil-A equal rights debacle and, most recently, the Papa John’s founder’s Obamacare statements and keep quiet. You can’t comment on a controversial issue and come away without offending SOMEONE and, in both of the above cases, a large portion of their consumer base. They will then boycott you and your bottom line is going to suffer tremendously. Not only that, but you’ll probably cause long-term brand damage.
And don’t think you can probably get away with it in your personal life either even though you may be “off the clock.” As a major representative for your company, any comments you say can and WILL be used against you in the courts of public opinion. Yes, I know, that feels like you are limited in your speech and that you are restricted more than the average person. I can empathize there. But guess what? That’s reality. That’s the price you pay for what you do for a living.
So, stop talking and spend your time focusing on the core aspects of your business. Believe me, you’ll thank me for this when you get your next check and it’s not significantly smaller. Your PR people will, in-turn, thank you for not putting them through a very-not-fun crisis situation.