Lorna Jane Clarkson is the name and face behind Australia’s active wear empire. A driving force in making fitness trendy, LJ’s company’s slogan is to “move, nourish, believe” (Lorna Jane); promoting the notion of a healthy mind, body and soul. However, the company has not been practising what it preaches. A job advertisement posted by Lorna Jane on Seek for a ‘Receptionist/Fit Model’ (Sullivan, 2015) was met with hostile reception and put the company’s reputation into turmoil.
The job title and the accompanying body measurement requirements opened a floodgate of backlash, with additional stories emerging. Effective public relations are based on the ‘image’ of a company. Iacob (2015) stressed the importance of effective corporate image being maintained through all media platforms by the delivery of accurate messages. Vessenes (2004) avows that a brand and its image must be one in the same. The job advertisement contradicted what LJ stood for and became a PR crisis.
With PR being the strategic management of both conflict and competition, Think Public Relations (Wilcox et al, 2014) called into action the phases of riskmanagement: proactive, strategic, reactive and recovery. Lorna Jane publicly showed two major phases effectively. They were proactive in the immediate takedown of the job advertisement and a swift public response. Bonini et al (2009) outlined the need to monitor reputational threats; primarily all online means and responding as they may arise.
The recovery phase was the most effective. It was a positive tactic to use the leading lady, Lorna Jane, to appear on Win Television’s 60 Minutes to publicly address the situation. The audience were able to hear the company’s vision from its visionary, whilst creating a personal connection to the brand. The combination of speedy and PR crisis strategies deemed effective for LJ and attained the active wear crown.
8.30 SUNDAY on 60 Minutes | Lorna Jane. Source: 60 Minutes Youtube
Iacob, SE 2015, ‘Promoting Corporate Image by Communication and PR Strategy’, Valahian Journal of Economic Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 75-82.
Bonini, S, Court, D, & Marchi, A 2009, ‘Rebuilding corporate reputations’, McKinsey Quarterly, no. 3, pp. 75-83
Lorna Jane, (unknown) Our Brand, Retrieved from: http://www.lornajane.com.au/about/brand
Sullivan, R, 2015, Lorna Jane Receptionist and Model Job Ad Includes Physical Measurements, News.com.au, Retrieved from: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/designers/lorna-jane-receptionist-and-model-job-ad-includes-physical-measurements/news-story/29971d9df316461702e20af417d43817
Wilcox, Cameron, Reber and Shin (2014) Think Public Relations, Pearson Education Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, United States of America. Chapter 8, pp. 172
Vessenes, K 2004, ‘Hitting the Airwaves’, Financial Planning, vol. 34, no. 7, pp. 75-78.