Marie Claire’s Weighty Dilemma – All PR is Good PR or an Alienation of Readers?
For the second time in recent weeks, Marie Claire has ignited a firestorm with content that readers deemed offensive. This time it was the post, “Should Fatties Get a Room,” in which blogger Maura Kelly questions whether or not overweight people should be intimate on television.
The writer makes some comparisons of being overweight vs. obese, some suggestions on how to lose weight and uses some choice words like “disgusting,” “grossed out” and “rolls and rolls of fat.” The post incensed so many people that the magazine has even become a trending topic on Twitter, and Facebook comments are scathing. In addition, scores of bloggers have been posting responses and mainstream media is also chiming in, including this story from the New York Daily News. In the olden days a few letters to the editor might have made it to the magazine’s front pages, but in today’s world of immediate response through social media, it takes only minutes to launch a war of words by thousands.
Yikes! I’m a huge fan of Marie Claire and have been a subscriber for years. I enjoy the mix of fashion commentary and compelling editorial the magazine provides. But it’s not hard to see how this post would be offensive to scores of people, and come off harsh and discriminatory. The writer issued an update that included an apology, and proceeded to respond to some of the 300+ comments (I’m having trouble finding her comments now, so you’ll probably have to dig.) Her apology alluded to her battle with an eating disorder, although her original post provided easy-to-follow instructions on how overweight people could shed pounds, which only served to flame the fire more. From the looks of the comments, readers aren’t feeling too forgiving.
Marie Claire has posted this response on its Facebook page:
Hey guys, we’ve heard from thousands of people today regarding MC.com blogger Maura Kelly’s controversial op-ed. She has been interacting with readers on our site throughout the day, and has also just posted an apology that’s updated on the original post (link below). Please take a look and continue to share your feedback, thanks
From a PR standpoint, there’s a lot to talk about here. It’s clear at this point the magazine isn’t taking ownership of the content. Is there an apology due in the first place, or is good editorial designed to incite conversation and debate? Did the magazine erroneously let the writer take the fall? Should senior management chime in? How would you suggest they respond? What can Marie Claire do to regain the trust of its readers, or have they dismantled the work they’ve put into being a magazine for all women? I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo Credit : Clouda9