Today’s post is part II of a two-part series. Yesterday, I shared my opinion on this situation and today, PR professional Brandon Vaughan is sharing a guest post with his opinion (which is slightly different than mine).
I would first like to say that this post is not a rebuttal to Kion’s. I, too am a big fan of Kanye (or “Yeezy” as most fans call him) and I was also taken aback after seeing his interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show. However, I can’t say that I was very surprised by his reactions during the interview. This isn’t the first time that he has ill-expressed himself in front of millions, and I think it’s easy for many to say Kanye will be Kanye. That said, a controversial response from Kanye is not something new, but specifically this time, rather than being disgusted at his actions, I empathized with him.
Empathy and sympathy are two similar, but fundamentally different things (during the interview Kanye also mentioned that he ‘empathized’ with George Bush), and to truly empathize is to show compassion for. I find compassion in the emotional verity of Kanye’s response.This is not the first time we have seen Kanye react so emotionally, in fact his facial expressions and obvious emotional discontent are very similar to those seen in his original, infamous ‘Hurricane Katrina Response’.
“Now all I need is y'all to pronounce my name / It's Kanye - But some of my plaques - they still sayKayne”
As PR professionals, it is our job to make sure our clients represent themselves in the most positive (or appropriate) manner, however it is also our job to make sure that their representation is indicative of their reality. Based on what we can glean from reported information, I think that Susie Arons from Rubenstein Communications did everything she was supposed to do as a professional PR practitioner. As hired counsel, she successfully recommended to Kanye that he cancel his interview (perhaps because she felt that he was unprepared), and there was probably not much that she could do when he decided to change his mind hours later.
As a client, Kanye was well within his right to abstain from Ms. Aron’s advice, but I think that proper and complete media training would have helped him to express his thoughts more effectively. Pain and frustration are seldom simple to express. The purpose behind media training isn’t to ‘coach answers’, rather it exists to give clients the skills they need to express themselves clearly and concisely. Beyond the controversy of the statements themselves, I think Kanye came to the Today Show with a lot of things that he wanted to say, but he came without the tools that he needed. I do think Lauer’s purpose was to elicit a reaction, and subsequent apology from Kanye for his past reactions, but I also don’t think that Kanye was ready, or willing to give him those.
“Yeezy taught me.”
Fans of George Bush or Taylor Swift might not like Kanye very much based on his comments, but frankly, they probably didn’t like him much before his outbursts. In the days since his Today Show appearance, Kanye’s friends like Jay-Z, Selita Ebanks, Common and even Hip-Hop guru Russell Simmons have expressed their support for Kanye, with Simmons saying in “An Open Letter to Kanye West” , “there is no need to apologize, Kanye. You spoke from your heart and that is all we will ever ask from you.”
He’s outlandish. He’s uncontrollable. He’s an interviewer’s nightmare, and yet, through his perfect imperfections, he remains truthful to himself.
I am not excusing any of Kanye’s actions, rather I’m saying : Let Kanye be Kanye.
Do you think Kanye should give media training another go?