A Lesson in Crisis Communications – Kelly Cutrone and Women in PR

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The following was written by PR Diva Founder and Editor-in-Chief Aliah Davis-McHenry:

I was away at a non-communications related conference this weekend and was completely immersed with getting the full conference experience and not following up on PR news and events (I know shocker, right?). I was unable to attend the Women in PR Summit in Miami because of this prior event obligation. However, one of the pulls (for me!) of this event was the opportunity to hear Kelly Cutrone speak. She is a PR professional I admire greatly for her tenacity, experience, and business acumen. I was a bit bummed that I couldn’t clone myself to be at both events! I was also glad that Anje Collins, a┬áPR & Luxury Lifestyle Consultant based in Miami and co-creator and organizer behind Women in PR, had created such a summit for PR students, emerging professionals, and seasoned professionals.

I woke up on Monday morning there was much going on in the blogosphere, on Twitter, and on Facebook regarding the “alleged breach of contract” between Kelly Cutrone, the keynote speaker of the event, and the event’s organizers Women in PR.

Quickly, I acquainted myself with background information from Ms. Cutrone’s videos, documentation, and commentary on her Facebook page as well as her tweets. Then I perused the same on Women in PR’s various social media accounts. Thankfully I came across Yasheaka Oakley’s post at the YOakley Blog who gave great background information on the situation as well. In a nutshell from what I gathered, Women in PR could not pay Kelly Cutrone due to a sponsorship pulling out last minute. Several attendees voiced their displeasure of Kelly Cutrone not appearing at the event on her Facebook page. It erupted to many “choice” words said from both parties involved as well as their social media followers.

I reached out to the Twitter community for input. Anje Collins of Women in PR directly contacted me via Twitter. In a brief phone conversation, Ms. Collins stressed that Women in PR will power forward and host another summit in Houston, Texas in 2013 despite the ordeal with Kelly Cutrone. She also noted that only three people asked for refunds after it was announced Kelly Cutrone would not be speaking. Via her Facebook page, Kelly Cutrone will host a Google+ hangout so PR professionals can gain knowledge and insight from her experiences and says she sees this all as a lesson on “how not to do PR”.

How would you resolve something like this if the shoe were on the other foot and you were WIPR or Kelly Cutrone with this dilemma? How would you handle the situation differently..or not?

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8 comments on “A Lesson in Crisis Communications – Kelly Cutrone and Women in PR
  1. Find the money to pay her… you don’t want to cancel on someone like Kelly. She’s got too much pull and far too influential. They could have made the money back 2-fold next year promoting video/content of Kelly at the event. #ohwell

  2. Let’s be clear, Women in PR is acting like this was a simple mistake but they keep making “simple” mistakes that continue to leave people disappointed and disgusted. This is not a good organization nor is it a true representation of this industry. Kelly had every right to let people know in a public forum what happened. Honestly when I first got word that Kelly was going to participate I knew this would end in disaster. By the way, what happened to their replacement Kita? The head of the organization strongly believes you do not need a degree to have a successful PR career but she needs to go and take a class in Business 101, Event Planning and Crisis Communications.

    Anje was “crying” on twitter about PR Pros not being loyal and leaving the organization. More and more seasoned PR Professionals are starting to speak out concerning the leadership and the over all organization because it is truly a horrible representation of true public relations professionals.

  3. Anje Collins is a fraud. She changed her name because of past fraud she has committed and has been reported to the better business bureau! I feel bad for the PR ladies who went this weekend and got scammed. Heard it was all recycled information and bad advice!

  4. This is a very unfortunate situation for both parties. As a member of the Women in PR group on Facebook, I see the value behind an organization that can gather women with one common mission…PR! On the other hand, it is definitely bad business to pull a stunt like this, especially involving such a big name in our industry. Ms. Cutrone has every right to go after what she is owed because her name was linked to the events and names mean everything in the world of entertainment and PR.

  5. Funny how people have so many negative things to
    say about a situation they’ve only been told 50% of the story.

    No one mentioned how STUPID and UNPROFESSIONAL
    Kelly Cutrone looked airing her dirty laundry on social media.
    If this is how she acts when she has a disagreement with people
    I can only imagine how she treats her clients who she has a falling out
    with.

    Did anyone not notice how Cutrone posted partial emails with
    blacked out information? If she was trying to tell the truth to her so called
    fans why not tell them the entire truth?

    Also, Cutrone’s statements were backwards. How do you start off saying
    that the org used her likeness and image w/o her permission
    then turned around and posted an email showing
    that she had previous knowledge months ago? Backwards.

    From my understanding the org was created to help empower
    and unite women in the industry NOT bring them down…unlike Cutrone. Yet
    Ppl are still raving about how amazing she is when in reality she is
    an industry bully who clearly thinks she’s more popular
    than she really is. After attending the conference I learned
    that a number of people had no clue who she was nor did they care.

    After reading the disgusting things that Cutrone wrote in her childish
    rant that is clearly about money, I unfollowed her. Who wants to be
    associated with such a negative person?

    Anyone who is a member of the org knows that it has only been
    active since 2011, so the org is still in development
    I expect for them to have trials and tribulations. Is there really a perfect company?

    At this point I feel bad for anyone who makes a negative comment
    about something they aren’t apart of. I wish all of the ladies in PR
    much success and prosperity w/ or w/o the org! Just know Cutrone would NEVER take time
    out to create something like this. Her actions and her words illustrate where her
    priorities are…not with the PR youth.

  6. Thanks for mentioning my article! I found the controversy to be quite interesting and plan to follow it.

    Some say Cutrone shouldn’t have posted the information online, but since she has, other women from the Chicago conference have voiced that similar conflicts have happened to them, so perhaps she acted as a much needed catalyst to incite change against a fraudulent organization?

    I have no direct preference for either organization or individual, but I can’t wait for Anje Collins to finally issue a statement! It’s much-needed at this point and any PR pro worth her salt knows that delaying only makes the crisis worst. All the best!

  7. Anje Collins is continuing to scam people. The NYC workshop was cancelled at the last minute and people are still waiting for refunds. She’s a liar and a thief and anyone who continues to support her is crazy. She keeps posting about facing her fears …she can start by giving people their money back and getting out of the industry.

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