Last week’s mea culpa and subsequent resignation of Saatchi and Saatchi Chairman Kevin Roberts over comments he made regarding women in the Publicis Groupe organization is just one more thoughtless and completely avoidable misstep that big agencies continue to make in their efforts to diversify their firms and weigh in on the universal conversation regarding women in the workplace.
This is getting old.
With this latest snafu, Publicis Groupe adds another notch to its sexual harassment belt following the Jim Tsokanos debacle of several years ago, which we now know was settled for a jaw-dropping $3 million just three months ago.
Publicis should take a lesson from its vast and deep resources of PR talent within its holding company to stop doing and saying stupid stuff (except for PR agency MS&L, as the aforementioned firm has its own lingering troubles).PR lesson 101: Anything you say to a reporter (or any public channel these days) can and will be quoted, verbatim and probably out of context. Mr. Roberts is no doubt known for being outspoken: you don’t get to his position without being a vocal and opinionated critical thinker and consultant. However, regardless of his vast years of advertising experience he is a reputational troglodyte. PR lesson 201: There are a few uber topics right now that, unless you are Donald Trump, you should absolutely tread carefully around: military, national security, race, and women. Mr. Roberts, you stepped into quicksand here; you were surrounded by public relations and reputation consultants – seek out their counsel in your next leadership position.