When you Say Sorry, Mean It

#11: When You Say Sorry, Mean It

MediaCorp, a local television company, had sent out an electronic Direct Mail (eDM) to clients and agencies canvassing for ad spots after news of the Japan Earthquake broke (details at Mr Brown).

It’s crass and disrespectful to those who died in the earthquake. To their credit, MediaCorp released a statement apologising for their gaffe within 24 hours.

Ironically their statement created another wave of disgust on Twitter.

Tweeps said it was “pointless”, “A pretty weak apology from Mediacorp. Classless and tactless” amongst other things (reaction at Topsy).

They hated how it was worded, and I do too.

"We apologize unreservedly if we had been seen to be insensitive to the gravity of the situation.  The staff concerned has been counseled to be more circumspect; we hope the public will be forgiving and we can focus our attention and efforts on the affected victims of this most unfortunate tragedy." 

Translated: “We apologise if [someone, it wasn’t specified] saw that we were being insensitive about the seriousness of the situation. We had given our staff a talk about being heedful of circumstances and potential consequences….”

So you won’t apologise to those who didn’t see that you were insensitive. And really, is a staff talk good enough?

Obviously not, and that’s not an apology.

That’s avoiding responsibility for your mistake, while trying to appear contrite.

And what does saying sorry have to do with content?

Everything, if you’re saying it on behalf on a client.


Say Sorry Properly

Be clear, take responsibility and be active.

I’m not asking for a few laps around the building. Rather as George Orwell advised, “Never use the passive where you can use the active.” (from Politics and the English Language).

Instead of all that earlier fluff, it’s more respectful and responsible if Mediacorp had simply said: “We apologise for being insensitive about the seriousness of the situation…”

But they didn’t. So instead of forgiveness, they got ridiculed.

Is that what you want?

If not, then when you say sorry – mean it.


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Credits: Featured image is a screenshot

4 thoughts on “#11: When You Say Sorry, Mean It

  1. This one never fails to get to me – Corporations and supposedly mature adults thinking they can work their way out of something with a fake apology. I felt the same way about the Kenneth Cole tweet apology a little while ago. They don’t seem to realize that there is an additional erosion of trust from a back-handed sorry. What are they thinking?

    1. That’s telling them!

      I think they do know. But they don’t want to seem to be wrong. Hence the cockamamie apologies which we know is a crock.

      Do you know of any brands that honestly apologised?

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