PR crisis: Paula Deen feels the heat, but is she cooked?


Paula Deen knows her way around a kitchen and a recipe. With her words, and her response so far, she unexpectedly cooked up a mess for herself.

The Food Network dropped her and her four shows.

Facebook and Twitter are going nuts with people opining–both for and against Paula Deen.

Here’s how I see it.Paula Dean in 2012.

Paula Deen’s biggest problem in the short term will be with retailers, e-tailers and anyone else who has a business venture with her. Those businesses will feel the pressure on their own brands to drop Paula Deen. The question will be how much can they stomach?

Paula Deen’s restaurants and stores this weekend were filled. That is indicative that many in the the public still support her and want to see her succeed. Will the companies in business with her be willing to feel the heat until the situation settles down?

I think it’s a good idea for  companies in business with her to wait and see how this plays out or they risk feeling the wrath that The Food Network is feeling. Many are critical of the network for firing the celebrity icon.

The reality is this: None of us knows yet exactly what she said and how bad it is. When we do hear, how will the public react to it? It’s probably a bad idea to pull the plug before you know it’s necessary. Most of the public at least supports waiting until you hear her out or find out what the deal really is.

Paula Deen admitted using the n-word during the deposition. Let’s remember she answered honestly. She didn’t lie.

Now, she’ll have a chance to make her case in an interview Wednesday with Matt Lauer on TODAY, that she’s not a racist and she’s being honest.

Paula Deen’s challenge is to convince people that she is absolutely not a racist and the Paula Deen they have come to know and adore is the same Paula Deen, but just maybe not as infallible or perfect; that she has made some mistakes. But she is not a bigot or a racist—never was and isn’t now.

I would not say that Paul Deen is done as some have predicted. However, I think if this situation continues to be handled poorly by her and her team, it does threaten to deliver a fatal blow. The allegations speak to character. If people start to believe she’s a racist or a bigot, most people will stop buying her name and it will destroy her brand.

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