On the Legal Marketing Association’s* listserv, LMA Connect, today a comment was posted on what we in the legal marketing industry could learn from Kanye West’s apology on The Jay Leno Show last night for ruining Taylor Swift’s moment at the MTV Video Music Awards.

As LMA Connect is a closed listserv I do not feel it appropriate for me to quote the original post, but here’s my take on Kanye’s apology and what we can all take away from it.


I am not a PR pro, guru or practitioner. I don’t even play one around the water cooler. However, I found that Kanye’s apology was weak and filled with too many excuses, including his grief for his mother’s passing. He did not follow the formula:

A proper apology should always include the following:

a detailed account of the situation

– acknowledgement of the hurt or damage done

taking responsibility for the situation

recognition of your role in the event

a statement of regret

asking for forgiveness

a promise that it won’t happen again

a form of restitution whenever possible

If his apology on The Jay Leno Show was his first attempt at saying sorry, I would have said “bravo” … but it was a bit too little too late for me.

We live in the age of the Internet, blogs, cached posts, screen shots, comments sections, etc.

On the night of the VMAs, Kanye wrote a rambling drunken tirade of an apology that will forever be captured (thanks to the Internet) where he basically blamed the victim (was he not implying that she was undeserving of the award and should have given it up like he did with Outkast??).

He took this apology down once the blogosphere attacked him for it, but it was too late. We ALL saw it. Just read the comments sections.

He then wrote another “apology” yesterday, once again, not taking responsibility. He’s just like Ben Stiller in “Meet the Fockers”??? He’s just a victim of circumstance. And, once again, he was rightly attacked by the public.

I will say that I believe that his apology on Leno was sincere and heartfelt. But the “humbling of Kanye,” in my opinion, had more to do with his industry, his peers, his fans and even the President of the United States, turning on him. I hope he makes good on figuring out how he’s going to deal with his life moving forward. I hope he has true awareness of the greater meaning of his actions.

So what can we learn from these poor choices by otherwise extremely talented man?

When in the midst of a crisis communication, where reputation management is key, you must first DO NOTHING. Think things through. Have a plan. You CANNOT take back a bad apology. You cannot RISK alienating your network further than you already have. The WORST part of all of this … you’ll never know the true damage to YOUR REPUTATION. Did you not get the work because you weren’t experienced enough, or do they know?? Did you not get the job offer, because they know?? What about being passed over for that speaking opportunity?? Was it because THEY KNOW???

Kanye will continue on, but the extent of the damage will never be truly known. How many songs will not be downloaded? Albums not bought? Seats at concerts not sold? Not to mention partnerships passed over? Sponsorships lost, etc.

Even if he figures his life out, changes his way, turns from bully to compassionate soul … this incident will be with Kanye always. Just Google it.

That he cannot repair.

* The LMA Listserv is open to LMA Members only. If you are a member of the legal marketing industry, I highly suggest you join your local chapter of LMA. Full disclosure: I am a past Member-at-Large for the International Board of Directors, and a past-president to the Los Angeles Chapter.