Beyonce’s Half-Hearted Crisis Management for Challenger Clip

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    Will the uproar from NASA and the family of astronauts on the mission force the singer to change her song?

    We all know pop stars like to use shock value to pump up the sales, but a song from Beyonce’s latest album has crossed the line, and ticked a lot of people off in the process.

    Current and former NASA astronauts, family members of those lost in the explosion, and members of the public (at least those old enough to realize the sound bite is from a real-life event) were outraged to hear that Beyonce’s new release, “XO”, includes audio of a NASA public affairs officer speaking as the Challenger explosion unfolded.

    The space organization itself, which rarely comments on public matters, felt moved to issue the following statement:

    “The Challenger accident is an important part of our history, a tragic reminder that space exploration is risky and should never be trivialized. NASA works every day to honor the legacy of our fallen astronauts as we carry out our mission to reach for new heights and explore the universe.”

    Many are calling for Beyonce to remove the clip, but for now it looks like her camp is leaning on a not-quite apology as crisis management for the situation. Here’s what she had to say:

    “My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster. The song ‘XO’ was recorded with the sincerest intention to help heal those who have lost loved ones and to remind us that unexpected things happen, so love and appreciate every minute that you have with those who mean the most to you. The songwriters included the audio in tribute to the unselfish work of the Challenger crew with hope that they will never be forgotten.”

    We don’t like to use the term “spin doctoring,” but if anything fits that description, then this is it. In the end, considering Beyonce’s rabid fanbase doesn’t seem too fazed by the soundbite, she’ll probably manage to get away with what is (at least in our eyes) an indisputably unethical move either way.

    Of course, she could always do the right thing and replace the clip with something less hurtful, but that would involve actually being the caring person she claims to be.

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
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    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]