The two Australian DJs who made the prank call to Prince Edward hospital have broken their silence with an explanatory interview with Australian media. Solemn and deeply apologetic, Michael Christian and Mel Greig, the two DJs behind the Kate Middleton-related hospital prank call that led to the suicide of the nurse who put them through, say they are “incredibly sorry” for what transpired. Speaking on behalf of the pair, Christian said both were “gutted, shattered, heartbroken.”
The fourteen-minute interview covered the predictable: Whose idea was it? Was this terrible outcome ever anticipated? What was their reaction on hearing about the suicide? And what happens now? At every turn, both gave a good interview. Prank calls have been around for years, they said, and they had no idea how this could happen. The call was meant to be nothing more than a funny routine prank. And, of course, they said they were very sorry.
The interviewer asked if responsibility stops with the DJs or with management, which approved the prank before the segment aired (as did the radio station’s legal department). The answer? No one could have expected the tragic outcome. While neither DJ blamed management, both pointed out that they had not acted alone. The interview ended with confirmation from management of the radio station that it has banned any future prank calls. Might this be the end of the matter?
The PR Verdict: “B” for DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig. A redeeming interview for the pair, and quite possibly for management.
The PR Takeaway: Take Your Lumps and Don’t Blame are the right tactics in a case such as this. This interview improved both DJs’ personal standing. By the end, it is clear that they’re stunned the prank caused the damage it did. With advertisers leaving the station in droves and the company’s share price falling, the temptation might have been to blame the radio station’s management for what happened. Instead, management might now want to thank its two employees. They avoided adding another layer of blame that would have shifted the focus from personal blame, but prolonged the crisis by looking at management’s role in the whole debacle. With this apologetic interview from the two protagonists, management might have just saved its skin.
For the full text and video excerpts of the interview, click here.