Here’s a situation that opened up a big ol’ can of PR worms this week: Trump Jr’s analogy using Skittles candy as a stand in for Syrian refugees on Twitter. Now what? Surely there are no rainbows at the candy company’s office these days.
Immediately visions of meeting after meeting amongst Skittles’ PR and marketing team crossed my mind when I heard about this incident. There were so many ways the company could’ve played this, and no matter the response, I knew judgements would flood the internet regardless. But, experienced PR folks can minimize it. That’s why it’s important to have a team that’s savvy in both public relations and social media.
Here’s what the company’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs had to say about the matter:
“Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it’s an appropriate analogy. We will respectfully refrain from further commentary as anything we say could be misinterpreted as marketing.”
Four simple sentences seem easy enough, but my guess is that response took hours to draft. This is why: the company was challenged to craft a message that is (1) emotionless (2) factual (3) doesn’t demonstrate a political opinion and (4) could not be interpreted as defensive or self promotional. It takes a skilled PR professional to craft something that conveys several difficult points in one brief response, but Skittles achieved it. In fact, they could stand to teach other companies (even ones within the same industry) a thing or two.
So kudos to the PR department. We believe you think wisely.