A PR lesson from Ariana Grande: How to handle controversy

Ariana Grande is one of my favorite artists. With a cute bubbly personality and sassy flair, she is also extremely talented and seemingly has a good head on her shoulder.

However, she is human, only twenty-two years old and makes mistakes like the rest of us. And living in the spotlight, her mistakes are that much more amplified.

Last week, she visited a doughnut shop in Los Angeles. She picked up a doughnut, licked it and put it back down on the shelf without purchasing it. 

Then she proceeded to loudly proclaim to her brother, "I hate Americans. I hate America."

The statement was caught on camera and went viral this past Tuesday.

Ariana issued a Twitter apology the following day and then posted this YouTube apology video Thursday night.

Before releasing the video, Ariana went on to explain that she loves America, and is proud to be an American, but is disgusted by the obesity rates within the country and the lack of self-control when it comes to food.

I'm not sure if her further explanation led to more controversy due to the "fat-shaming", which can be detrimental when she has a huge female following.

However, it was a good move on her part to publicly own up to the controversial statement and offer a sincere apology. As a public figure, it is never a good idea to just hope that a situation disappears. You must address it head on.

So what can we learn as entrepreneurs? Here are three things that I suggest you do if you find yourself in a situation where you unintentionally offend a large group of people.

  1. Offer a public apology. If you have a large presence on social media, utilize that platform or send a statement to your local paper.
  2. Make it personal. Ariana's initial tweet was a good start. Her YouTube video took it up a notch. We can clearly see her sincerity. Especially since she made the video while in pain (she just had her wisdom teeth removed).
  3. Give back. My only suggestion to Ariana would be to turn this opportunity into a way to improve our society. You don't have to make it a press event, but in Ariana's case she should volunteer at a food shelter or work with an organization that helps reduce the obesity rates among children. If you are in a similar controversial situation, think about how you can help the population that you just offended in some way.

And now I want to hear from you! What would you suggest to Ariana or another entrepreneur in this situation? Leave us a comment below.

Money & Mimosas is a lifestyle site for entrepreneurs who want to build businesses like celebrities. Click here to join our weekly newsletter for more practical business advice.