Chances are your head's spinning right now. That accusation of bias caught you off guard, you got kind of defensive, and now all hell has broken loose. You're feeling attacked on all sides. You're a good person at heart, and having all these people treat you like the antichrist is pretty upsetting.
You need to say something, but you're probably not in the best headspace to write copy right now. So to help you along, here's my 100% guaranteed-or-you-money-back scandal defusement apology template:
What we [said|did] was offensive, and we are sorry.
Recently we [CONCISE ACCOUNT OF WHAT YOU DID]. Someone pointed out that this was offensive, and we made things worse by reacting badly instead of listening carefully.
What we did was offensive, and how we handled the feedback was wrong. We apologize to all the people we hurt.
We want to learn from this experience. We welcome your thoughts: please tell us how we can do better, and don't hold back.
Here are a few of the things this template doesn't say:
- "Some people were offended"
- "We're sorry if you were offended"
- "May have been construed as offensive"
- "We made a good-natured joke that was misinterpreted"
- "All in good fun"
- "We had good intentions"
- "We apologize to anyone who was offended"
- "I know some people who weren't offended"
- "A lot of that was out of our control"
- "Our feelings were hurt by the reaction"
- "We're a great company, check out our products"
Now is not the time to tell your side of the story. Communication has shut down, and whose fault that is is completely irrelevant. The only thing you can control right now is what you say. It is in your power to defuse the situation, but to do that you must take full, complete responsibility. No provisos, no weaseling. This may seem difficult and unfair. But ask yourself: is defending yourself really more important to you right now than fixing the problem?