By Amanda Byrne
A key aspect of creating change and dealing with crises in an organization is establishing and maintaining transparency, especially when it comes to issues dealing with diversity and inclusion. Establishing transparency and communicating honest messages to your consumers helps establish brand loyalty (Faranas, 2018). Transparency is important in communications because it paints a brand as trustworthy, honest, and truthful to its consumers and target market. When dealing with a crisis, transparency is important in gaining forgiveness and understanding from your consumers (Hernandez, 2020). A brand needs to be upfront and admit its mistakes as soon as possible to maintain trust. Instead of ignoring a major scandal and attempting to sweep it under the rug, brands should communicate their accountability, issue an apology, and explain how the organization will adjust, adapt, and change (Faranas, 2018).
An example of a brand being successfully transparent was during Rihanna’s Fenty beauty collaboration fashion show, Savage x Fenty. Savage x Fenty released trailers promoting an upcoming lingerie line featuring girls modeling the lingerie with music in the background. One of the trailers featured the song ‘Doom,’ by Coucou Chloe, a song that features verses from the Islamic Hadith, one of the most sacred Muslim texts. Once the trailer was released there was immediate anger and backlash from members of the Muslim community. This especially received a lot of backlashes because the Muslim religion is very modest, and the video featured women dancing in lingerie, so people viewed it as insensitive and inappropriate. Fenty Beauty claimed that the Savage x Fenty team is editing the video and replacing the song with something more appropriate. The brand continued to say that it has, "nothing but the utmost respect and love for the Muslim community,” and explained that the brand was built on promoting and embracing diversity and inclusion" (Narayanan, 2020).
Rihanna, the face and founder of Fenty Beauty, also issued her apology over the Savage x Fenty show social media pages. Rihanna stated, “I would like to apologize to you [Muslim community] for this honest yet careless mistake. We understand that we have hurt many Muslim brothers and sisters, and I am incredibly disheartened by this” (Narayanan, 2020). She continued to state that she thanks her fans, consumers, and the Muslim community for their forgiveness and understanding and assured that it will not happen again (Narayanan, 2020). Rihanna also replied to direct messages from fans explaining how truly sorry she was for this honest mistake. She engaged in civil discussions with members of the Muslim community to understand how the trailer made them felt. Because of their quick and transparent response to this scandal, the Savage x Fenty show was forgiven by most of its fans and target audience. The brand was honest, communicated its accountability, issued an apology, and explained how the organization will change.
Faranas, L. A. (2018, June 25). The Importance of Transparency in Public Relations Strategy. Retrieved November 03, 2020, from https://mill.agency/content/the-importance-of-transparency-in-public-relations-strategy/
Hernandez, M. (2020, August 12). How Communicators Can Help Brands Create Real Change. Retrieved November 03, 2020, from https://www.cision.com/us/2020/08/how-communicators-can-help-brands-create-real-change/
Narayanan, A. (2020, July 10). Rihanna Issues an Apology for Savage x Fenty Scandal. Retrieved November 03, 2020, from https://www.indigomusic.com/whats-up/rihanna-issues-an-apology-for-savage-x-fenty-scandal