In a world where some CEOs are in hot water for telling customers only the “cool kids” should wear their clothes, and others refuse to stock larger sizes at all, at least one company has elected to choose humanity over image … and they are reaping amazing benefits.
Not too long ago, the mother of a middle school girl with Down’s Syndrome (DS) posted a “back to school” picture of her daughter on social media. Many other moms with DS daughters commented on how stylishly dressed the young girl was. They asked where “mom” got those clothes that were both appropriate, and still stylish.
Mom replied that she found them at Wet Seal. She also mentioned that her daughter dreamed of being a model for the company. So, in a fit of Facebook pique, the mom and her friends created a FB page showcasing her daughter modeling the Wet Seal wardrobe.
You know what happened next. The page went viral, and thousands liked the positive message. Then Wet Seal caught wind of the deal. What would they do? Condemn the mother? Chastise the daughter for the presumption of being an “imperfectly shaped” person wearing their clothes? Nope. THEY LOVED IT!!!
And rightly so. Ronn Torossian calls what happened next one of the best examples of combining goodwill, and great PR in the realm of social media. Wet Seal challenged Karrie to get at least 10,000 LIKES on her page over the next two days. If she could prove to be a profitable model for Wet Seal, the company would make it official, and make Karrie’s wish a reality.
Bet you can finish the story.
Karrie’s page BLEW UP, and Wet Seal made good on its promise. They brought Karrie in for a full fledged professional modeling shoot. Karrie walked away from that experience with a story that will live well beyond that day, and a memento of her shoot, a photo collage with the words: “Welcome to the Wet Seal Family, Karrie!”
Not only was this girl accepted in the clothes … she was accepted into the family! This is a hugely powerful statement for a person who will struggle to be accepted in many phases of life, and a beautiful sentiment from a Big Nameless Faceless Corporation.
“You know what?”, Torossian said, “In that moment, Wet Seal showed us their face … and it’s us. They care about people, not just selling clothes.” You want to get to the heart of public relations? It’s all about relating to the public. Other companies have forgotten this.
Let’s take a moment to be thankful for one that remembered.
“PR is a mix of journalism,
psychology, and lawyering - it’s an ever-changing and always interesting landscape.”
Ronn is the CEO of 5WPR and author of best selling PR book, For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations, and a regular contributor to Fox News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Insights Wired, Everything-PR and more.