In May 2019, the world of the YouTube beauty vlogger was shaken to its core when Tati Westbrook announced the cancelation of fellow influencer James Charles. As we know, the feud all stemmed from a betrayal involving gummies – we’ll spare you the details. Tati posted a video slamming James for his behavior, which cost him more than 2 million followers within 48 hours. This epic feud, along with the celebrities who were involved, all went viral across several social media platforms. If there’s one thing PR pros are really great at, it’s handling social media and crises. That’s why we’re offering tips to keep your brand from getting #canceled.
Managing honesty with receipts
Technology: everyone hates to love it and loves to hate on it. Not only do we get our news and entertainment delivered to us through our phones, we also keep up with every conversation, photograph, link or video we desire, creating “receipts.” Receipts has become the colloquial term for digital records kept handy (usually screenshots) to prove a side of a story. These receipts can also be stacked and used to tarnish a person or organization’s reputation.
Unfortunately, Tati had some unflattering receipts from James that she shared on her Instagram Story that caused his follower and subscriber count to plummet. In contrast, Tati gained millions of followers because of the ordeal ‒ making her a great example of the benefits someone can reap by being honest online. Our advice? DO NOT make false promises! James lied to Tati, and she had the receipts to prove it. The best thing to do when you’re confronted with something you’re not proud of is to be honest, genuine and transparent about learning from your mistakes.
We live in a world where once you’ve said or done something in the realm of the internet, it becomes permanently tethered to your reputation moving forward – whether it’s intentional or not. This is especially true with organizations, celebrities and influencers. We all make mistakes – but being strategic about what to do afterward is essential. The next step in managing your internet crises is to assess the damage and craft a game plan to manage the situation.
Show me some positivity
Unfortunately, internet drama is rarely sunshine and rainbows. There’s something about being behind a computer monitor that can make people particularly mean. Don’t give in to the insanity of the internet. Through all of the drama, Tati’s defining trait has been addressing issues with a kind demeanor, even helping diffuse the situation when things got especially heated. James’ apologies earned him back some followers, but he still opted to take a social media hiatus – we’ve all been there, James! When it comes to internet drama, take some advice from Taylor Swift – you need to calm down. Maintain a positive, problem-solving attitude and let the situation air out.
The light at the end of the tunnel
The best thing about cancel culture is that, unless you’ve done something vile or unforgivable, it’s only temporary. With the quick turnaround in our news cycle and our fleeting collective memory, on top of other major news overshadowing small internet feuds, a social media crisis has the potential to be a mere blip on a person or organization’s radar if handled properly. Recently, James uploaded his first video since the drama, which garnered millions of views and landed at the No. 1 trending video spot on YouTube. Although we aren’t all beautubers, we can all stand to learn a thing or two from this drama that can potentially save us from a crisis scenario in the future.