It’s been nearly 100 years since American women won the right to vote, yet somehow we’re still struggling for gender equality.
McKenna Paterson, a 12-year-old girl from Arizona, loves watching basketball. She also loves to play basketball.
This shouldn’t cause any issues. After all, there’s an entire professional league dedicated to women’s basketball. However, when McKenna received the 2014 DICK’S Sporting Goods basketball catalogue she found there were absolutely no girls in the catalog.
Except for once on page 6— there are woman sitting in the stands watching a game. And one more time— there are cheerleaders on some of the coupons.
The 12 year old took the time to write a letter to DICK’S. In it she states: “I think that girls should be treated as equally as boys are treated.”
And it really should be that simple.
McKenna’s dad, a media personality who covers sports, tweeted a picture of the letter and it went viral. With more than 5,000 favorites and the same number of retweets, DICK’S had no choice but to respond.
And they did so just the way companies seem to do: with a semi apology in a form letter.
The good news, though, is it gets better. A lot of bad PR ends with more bad PR, but in this case DICK’S was able to turn the situation around.
On Oct. 11 the CEO of DICK’S wrote McKenna a letter admitting that the company “clearly messed up” and personally guaranteeing “the next year’s basketball catalog will prominently feature female athletes.” He also extended an offer to meet McKenna and her family during a planned trip to Arizona later this month.
Further, DICK’S put their response out there by posting it on their social media account instead of trying to hide in personal emails.
Another company, Ballher Athletic Apparel also turned the situation into a positive PR moment by reaching out to McKenna and offering her female basketball apparel and connecting her to the brand with a well-written letter.
In the letter, the owner of the company writes, “You are a role model for speaking your mind and a voice for a topic that desperately needed a spokeswoman.”
Ultimately, this PR Fail turned into a win for both DICK’S and Ballher for quick, sincere responses. Just another example of how good PR can negate the effects of an otherwise sour situation.