Paula Deen Deep Fries Her Empire

Upon hearing “Paula Deen” your first thought probably used to be of her traditional Southern food, restaurants, cookbooks, and television shows. However, within the past few months that initial thought has probably changed. Over the summer, accusations of Paula Deen making racist slurs flooded the news headlines. Within days of the incident’s reveal, corporations began to discuss dropping their sponsorship with Deen. With numerous household brands supporting her corporation, her empire was at a serious risk and her PR team was swamped.

After Paula Deen’s racial slurs made national headlines, her initial contact with the media was questionable – she failed to show up for an interview with Matt Lauer and sent out two separate videos apologizing for ditching the interview, claiming she “would never intentionally hurt anyone.” Several days later, during her first interview about the accusations, she turned the events around, focusing on how hard these allegations have been on her and her family making close to no attempt to apologize for her actions. Her initial response was to apologize not only to Matt Lauer and the Today Show crew for ditching them, but to anyone who she may have hurt.  However, she used transcendence, an aspect of apologia that puts the issue at hand in a different context, in the interview when she said “I go into my kitchens and hear what these young people are calling each other. It’s very distressing for me. I think for this problem to be worked on these young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other.”  She had gone even further to use differentiation, another aspect of apologia, by stating that “The day I used that word was a world ago — I had a gun put to my head.” She is definitely trying to make herself sound like the victim of a much more serious act. What do you think of Paula Deen’s tactics on handling her latest scandal? She initially apologized to everyone for the accusations against her, but days later tried to turn it around to make viewers feel sorry for her.

Sponsors dropped Deen’s brand and months passed with no word from the Emmy Award-winning T.V. chef – until this past weekend. This past Sunday, the “Queen of Southern Cooking” made her first public appearance in Texas since her controversy over the summer. Deen came back with a bang, receiving a ten-minute standing ovation from fans as she walks on stage, almost as if her fans have completely forgotten about the event over the summer. Some people felt that she did not spend enough time out of the limelight, but others say they’re ready for Deen to make her return. Despite her rocky and scattered PR strategy, an online survey conducted by LA. Times revealed that 92% of people are ready to see Paula Deen back on television. No one knows for sure what lies ahead for Paula Deen and her brand. Do you think it’s too early for Paula to make her return?

– Tilson Hackley