Among the more recent public relations crises are comments made by T-Mobile CEO John Legere regarding his competitors. At a company press event on June 18, Legere shared his thoughts about AT&T and Verizon by making a comment that appeared more offensive than productive.
While Legere is known for his extreme language, many in the audience and those who heard the comments secondhand were shocked at his imperious statements in front of such a large crowd. In response to the vast amount of criticism Legere faced, he soon tweeted,
“The drawback to having no filter when I speak … sometimes I need a filter. Genuinely apologize to those offended last night,” and later, “I know I have an [sic] Rated R vocabulary, but even I can go too far. Sincere apologies to anyone offended last night.”
But is this response enough to apologize to those personally offended?
In terms of impact, the brief tweet Legere sent to followers did not reach nearly as many as those offended. Additionally, the informality in his diction — and the informality Twitter provides in general — results in his apology appearing less sincere.
In terms of managing a crisis, Legere did not assuage those who expressed concerns and displeasure about his statements. In order to do so, a far more sincere apology written formally and addressed to those affected would have been more effective and earnest. The CEO could have even gone as far as posting a video personally apologizing for his inappropriate words, like the president of Dominos Pizza did when faced with a crisis years ago.
T-Mobile competitor, AT&T, provided an effective example of how to apologize for inappropriate remarks when faced with a potential self-created crisis in 2013. Following a tribute tweet attempting to honor the lives of those lost on 9/11, the company’s CEO Randall Stephenson sent a wholehearted and honest apology addressing those displeased. Stephenson wrote,
“I want to personally express to our customers, employees, and all those impacted by the events of 9/11 my heart felt [sic] apologies … It is a day that should never be forgotten and never, ever commercialized. I commit AT&T to this standard as we move forward.”
What do you think? Was Legere’s apology sufficient and true to his personality, or should he have created a more formal response?