Published on: November 27, 2018by Michael Sansolo
In case anyone hadn’t noticed, the Internet is a pretty cruel place.
That spirit of candor bordering on meanness permeates everything - including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and that’s something no business can ignore these days.
The strange kerfuffle at the parade involved a singer, who I must admit I do not know, named Rita Ora. In her key close-up moment on the parade broadcast, Ora “sang” what I guess is one of her best-known songs. The problem is she clearly wasn’t singing.
Even though I don’t know her or her songs, I could tell she was lip-synching and badly at that. Her gestures on specific words were consistently on the wrong words and every close-up simply made it increasingly clear that she wasn’t singing live. It was just awful television. (It is possible that the problem was with her audio feed, but that doesn’t really matter to the viewer.)
Twitter lit up quickly, trashing her and her “performance.” It got so ugly that John Legend (yes, I know who he is) came to her defense, explaining that the conditions - an absurdly cold day, plus the logistics of a parade marching down New York City streets, don’t make for a plausible singing environment. He explained that lip-synching is standard order to protect the singer’s voices and pretty much everyone’s ears. Nothing else is really possible.
(Except for Kelly Clarkson, who sang live. No lip-synching. Score one for her.)
Ora thanked him publicly for the explanation and assured her fans that in her concerts she is really singing.
Needless to say, there are business lessons to draw from this story.
First, we all need to understand the unforgiving nature of today’s interconnected society. We’ve all seen how quickly a customer service error can go viral. (Just Google anything about United Airlines!) It’s a reminder that we are all on stage all the time these days - which underlines the enduring importance of motivated and well-compensated front line staff. Sass a customer today and there’s a good chance you are a trending topic on Twitter or YouTube in no time. More than ever we need to maintain professionalism and composure.
But the reality is that missteps will happen and that’s where Legend and Ora provide a lesson in responding. They didn’t lie or blame others, such as Macy’s or NBC. They simply admitted what happened, honestly explained the problem and moved on.
That’s the type of response that stops a viral moment in its tracks and helps restore or repair a reputation. Mistakes will happen, and when they do we need to just face the music, so to speak, and admit the truth. Lack of honesty and authenticity fans the flames of the Twitterverse.
It’s a whole new world and not always a kind one. But it’s the world we all inhabit and we cannot afford to forget it.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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