Posted about 6 years ago

How should a business owner handle a Public Relations Nightmare?

How should a business owner handle a Public Relations Nightmare?

There are many websites, articles and blogs that teach/or give you tips on how to start or grow a business. 

What you don't see as often are the articles that provide tips on what to do when you have already started and grown your small company into a large business that now faces a public relations nightmare.

Recently my company, The Holton-Wise Property Group was involved in a potentially disasters public relations nightmare. Here is how we it all unfolded.

Before Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers one of our newest employees posted some very hateful things to Stephen Curry's sister Sydel Curry.

This of course led to outrage which led many people to notify Holton-Wise and myself of the situation.

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After investigating what was going on I made the decision to terminate said employee and respond to the media outrage towards Holton-Wise for his actions.

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After the decision to terminate him went public I personally issued a formal apology to Sydel Curry on behalf of Holton-Wise.

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At this point the story went national. Every news station, blog and website picked it up.

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I had reporters calling and news cameras coming into the office looking for comment.

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After all of the media outlets picked up the story Twitter and other social media went insane. People began reaching out to Holton-Wise and myself personally to express their approval or disdain from our decision to terminate this employee.

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There consensus was a little mixed but the majority of people felt that Holton-Wise did the right thing. 

Some of the positive reactions were as follows.

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Good Afternoon,

Bravo and terrific response by James Wise about the idiotic tweets from your former employee regards Steph Curry's family. The cliche "making lemonade from lemons" came to mind on how your firm handled this situation. As low and insulting those tweets were, the response from Mr. Wise was first class and heartfelt

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Then of course there were the negative reactions. They were the minority but they were much louder than those who were on the other side of this debate.

WARNING: Some of these are very vulgar.

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Hopefully you are still with me after combing through all of that data. This brings me to the point of this article.

How should you handle a public relations nightmare?


If you are running a large company with a lot of exposure you need to prepare yourself for a PR scandal.

The question is not "will" my company be involved in a PR scandal?

It is "when" will my company be involved in a PR scandal, and will I be ready for it?


We did not sit on our hands when this thing started taking off. We immediately put this to the top of this priority list and acted quickly and appropriately  before any further damage to the Holton-Wise brand could occur. You do not want to sit around and see how things play out before you decide on what you want to do. The problem will not solve itself. You must solve it.


If you have an employee that is going against your culture or hurting the brand and image you have put blood, sweat and tears into you must remove them. Your loyalty is to your business not to the employee who is harming your business.

I was asked by several people "how is he going to feed his family now"

My response was "I have 50 other employees who need to fee their families as well. If I let the actions of one person destroy my brand we all may not be able to fee our families."


Remember when you are a business owner you are not only responsible for your own actions, but those of everyone working in your organization.


There are a lot of internet trolls out there that just want to ruffle your feathers. They have nothing better to do than to try to get a rise out of you. Do not stoop to their level. You are a business owner and you must act that way at all times.