When handling a crisis, the line between what’s right and wrong isn’t often blurred.
In the days that followed the deadly attacks in Belgium’s capital on Tuesday, much of the world was in shock.
London-based PR executive Matthew Doyle decided to channel his confusion into a confrontation:
Doyle’s action—and his shameless self-promotion of it online—infuriated Twitter users.
Here’s a small sampling of the response it received:
Instead of apologizing for his offensive remarks—as a sensible public relations professional would do in a crisis—Doyle stood his ground, calling it “PR” prowess:
Although at first he led users to believe his outlandish act was only a “PR stunt,” he later recanted that statement and continued his online rant against followers of Islam.
In PR, successful personal branding can be a difficult nut to crack—as it usually involves getting people to agree with your message. In Doyle’s mind, the backlash he received in thousands of angry tweets meant that he was flourishing.
In boasting that his tweet had gone viral, Doyle retweeted users’ responses and made himself available to press inquiries and interviews:
His organization—Grant Doyle Associates—responded to the backlash in a fairly lewd manner on Facebook . Instead of apologizing on Doyle’s behalf, the PR and talent agency’s remarks mirrored its partner’s previous statements.
The Guardian reported that Doyle was later arrested.
“The Metropolitan police confirmed that a 46-year-old man had been arrested on Wednesday evening in Croydon on suspicion of inciting racial hatred via social media,” the article stated.
Before his arrest, a reporter from Huffington Post UK interviewed Doyle:
When asked by The Huffington Post UK as to why he had chosen to approach the woman, Doyle explained that her Islamic headscarf justified approaching her.
He said: “She was wearing a flag. If I was walking down the street wearing a jacket emblazoned with a Union Jack then I would be open to some abuse.”
When asked if he approaches Jewish men wearing skullcaps to question them on the ongoing Israel/Palestine situation he exclaimed: “Absolutely not!”
As of Thursday afternoon, Doyle is still behind bars—thinking twice, perhaps, about how great a PR pro he really is.
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What do you think, PR Daily readers? How should Doyle and his agency have responded to the backlash against his viral tweet?