NEW YORK - Paula Deen appeared on the Today show Wednesday to address the controversy surrounding her use of racial slurs. USA TODAY's People team spoke to several public relations and branding experts who weighed in on Deen's appearance.
Mark Pasetsky, CEO of public relations and marketing content firm Mark Allen & Co.
One-word assessment: "Wow"
"It was really by far the most uncomfortable celebrity interview I have watched in a very long time," he said. "She really needed to take full responsibility for what she said and it appeared to me that the strategy for this interview was to be pointing the fingers rather than to take responsibility for the words she admitted to using."
David Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision, a Suwanee, Ga.-based public relations and branding agency
One-word assessment: "Bombed"
"The worst celebrity apology I think in history. If I'm a sponsor right now, I'm jumping as far away as possible. It's obvious she thinks she's the victim of this entire situation. This is a bigger issue than just her," he says. "Instead, there were crocodile tears. That's all I could think of, Tammy Faye Bakker."
Allen Adamson, managing director of Landor Associates, a branding agency
One-word assessment: "Well-rehearsed"
"She seemed to be well-coached and I think she did a pretty credible job of delivering her message, and overall, I think it was a good performance. Even though she says she's not an actress, I think she stayed to her script pretty well despite Matt (Lauer's) efforts to get her on his script."
Howard Bragman, vice chairman, Reputation.com
One-word assessment: "Emotional"
"I would give it a 'B' performance if I were to call it a performance. She didn't look good. She looked like she had been run over by a steamroller. You couldn't watch this interview and not feel her pain," says Bragman. "Her goal was to stop the bleeding, stop the attrition of her sponsors, and she probably achieved that."
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