Oprah's vast success in virtually everything she touches is no fluke. The woman possesses a great deal of common sense and obviously surrounds herself with professionals who do the same.
When she recently learned the heartbreaking news that girls in her South African school for disadvantaged girls had been abused by a school staff member, she reacted immediately. In my opinion, she did so in classic public relations style, not because it would make her look her best in a bad situation, but because it was the right thing to do. You can read a great story on this event here.
Here is a great example of a good, common sense public relations move outlined in the article:
"After hearing of the allegations, (Oprah) organized an independent investigation headed by Richard Farley, a Chicago detective who specializes in child abuse.
Winfrey said she flew to South Africa to speak with the students and encourage them to come forward with their complaints.
"It was a chance to break the silence," she said."
According to news reports, officials at the school delayed telling Oprah of the allegations. But as soon as she learned of them, she took action.
There was a period of time in which Oprah did not address the media on these allegations, at the request of South African authorities.
Good PR move: When Oprah couldn't comment on the allegations, she was forthright with the media in explaining why.
Good PR move: When she could comment on the allegations, she did so.
Good PR move: Although Oprah isn't directly responsible for the girls being abused at the school, as its founder and leader, she told the media the buck stopped with her.
It amazes me how many figure heads and companies go so horribly wrong when it comes to a crisis. Good public relations practice really shouldn't be something learned from college or from a PR professional. Good PR is just plain common sense most of the time.
In this case, Oprah admitted there were some kinks in the system that prevented these allegations from immediately coming to light. She fixed that in short order by cleaning house of the staff who failed the girls, by meeting with the girls' families to apologize and by issuing cell phones to the girls and telling them to call her if similar occurrences happen in the future.
In this case, Oprah made a textbook example of how to handle an awful situation properly.