As crisis communications professionals we spend a lot of time combing the headlines and watching the news to keep tabs on the issue du jour. There’s always something to be learned from others’ experiences, and in the case of Chick-fil-A, we’ve had a steady stream of learning opportunities since president Dan Cathy expressed his views on gay marriage during a recent radio interview. Cathy isn’t the first company president to exercise his right to free speech – and he won’t be the last – but this article from the Los Angeles Times does a good job highlighting some of the points Cathy might have learned from his peers at Target and Whole Foods who spoke out before him and also paid a price.
I particularly appreciated author Michael Hiltzik’s closing paragraph: “Corporate executives surrounded by yes men telling them how wise they are will probably continue to try sharing their wisdom on subjects well outside their core competencies. Sometimes they’ll tailor their words to what they think are their target markets. Sometimes, like Cathy, they’ll discover that there are bigger markets out there where customers may not care for what they have to say. We should defend to the death their right to speak, and also our own right to make them pay for it, or not, at the cash register.”
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue. Are you turning this news story into a learning opportunity for your clients or company leaders?