There is no amount of butter that can help Paula Deen’s brand get out of this tight jam.
Paula Deen's branding meltdown

The past few weeks have not been pretty for Ms. Paula, the Southern belle, sweet potato, comfort food celeb. After being deposed in a lawsuit where a former employee alleged a culture of racism and sexual harassment, Paula under oath, admitted using the “N” word and I’m not referring to “Non-Fat.”

Her million-dollar empire went from deep-fried and happy to “where have all my sponsors gone?” Wal-Mart, Target, Smithfield Foods, Caesars Entertainment, The Food Network, Home Depot and even the drug maker Novo Nordisk all opted-out after the news broke.

Doing something bad is never good, but this situation went from bad, to insanely stupid, self-inflicted, career-ruining awful.

As a food professional, restaurant operator, chef or businessperson, take note of this very serious turn of events as a big-time foodie falls from grace and learn from it.

This week I did a couple of TV interviews on the subject of Paula Deen’s brand meltdown and share these tips with you on how to handle a very unfortunate event like this.


Watch the story on Fox Business (national)
Paula Deen's brand meltdown, Karen Post branding expert








Watch the story on MyFoxTampa
Paula Deen's brand cooked






Depositions are public record.
What you say and how you say something can and will be used against you.

The bigger your brand, the more starving vultures are ready to pounce.
A big-personality, celebrity is a 24/7 walking target. It’s not small talk in Savannah.

Stay in front of the story.
Once you realize, you have said or done something that can be damaging to your brand, STOP, (seek professional help) and get in front of the negative story with your story. Your story needs to get out promptly, it needs to be credible and you need to take responsibility.

If you put out a youtube video, it had better be airtight.
There are no dress rehearsals in crisis management. Your video should be confident, no rambling on, no obvious edit cuts and honest solution to the negative event.

Put your big girl panties on.
Unless you are dead or in ambulance, if you commit to appear on a national TV show, like the Today Show with Matt Lauer, you’d better be there.

Or, if should you be so lucky like Paula was and you get a second opportunity with Matt Lauer, make it a story-changing interview, not a cry baby, dance around the real issue session.

I’m not putting any money on the “Comeback too soon Paula Deen” horse.
Paula and her posse had at least three opportunities to control the outcome of this landmine and they failed miserably.

My advice.
Take a vacation. Think long and hard about how you can contribute to really changing the root of this situation with your brand’s stage.

If you do comeback, be relevant to the new age, the media and a diverse world of consumers and do manage your brand bumps better.

More articles on crisis management and brand turnaround you may find useful.

Is your restaurant ready for an accident?

How to handle bad press.