The beautiful apology, and why it worked for ‘George’


Jason Alexander never rose to the top of my favorite Seinfeld characters.

Everyone nonetheless recognizes that George’s flops and trips and endless screwups went to the heart of the show’s comedic dynamics, as much as Kramer’s [Michael Richards] open-door entrances and twitches. But I never really liked his character.

Now, unlike Richards, who made some crisis-inducing remarks several years back that don’t merit repeating here, Alexander responded so well to a real-life slip up that it provides a superior teaching moment for crisis management.

How completely un-George-like. George always made things worse. He transported minor incidents into a relationship-ending, job-losing, car-crashing messes. His motto in life seemed to be ‘give me a spark, I’ll give you a forest fire.’

In real life, bravo.

Twitter and other social media went a little wacky a few days back when Alexander appeared on late-night TV and proceeded to label cricket “a gay sport.” As you can read in his explanation, he gave his reasoning, sensitively touched on why he was wrong and sincerely apologized.

He comes out ahead, at least in my book, for the effort. More CEOs, actors and boorish sports heroes should learn from this.

So, I can only apologize and I do. In comedy, timing is everything. And when a group of people are still fighting so hard for understanding, acceptance, dignity and essential rights – the time for some kinds of laughs has not yet come. I hope my realization brings some comfort.

My EMA colleague Craig Troskosky, who heads Rochester’s PRSA chapter, flagged the BuzzFeed account of Alexander’s sensitive, transparent and most of all effective apology. It’s a perfect example of what more high-profile people should do, and how they should do it.

Thanks, by George.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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