When an individual or enterprise has made an error which has hurt its customers or stakeholders, making an apology is not only the morally correct course of action: it is also sound public relations practice.
They keys to making effective redress for the error are broadly similar in public relations as they are in personal relationships:
- The apology should be made quickly after the error has been discovered — as a rule of thumb, within 48 hours
- It should be sincere
- It should acknowledge the hurt caused
- It should help interested parties to understand the causes leading up to the error
- It should clearly detail the redress offered
We were impressed by just such a public apology offered yesterday by Groupon, the fast-growing group buying startup. In a simply shot three-minute video clip, posted publicly on YouTube, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason apologized to Japanese customers for a recent coupon deal gone bad.
Mr. Mason does appear to be reading off cue cards, but we believed that his apology was sincere, and will likely be effective in recovering his company’s lost reputation in the Japanese market. Its a good case study to invest three minutes of your time in.