Boycotting or banning a person, brand or organization to silence their views is the driving force behind cancel culture. “Canceling” works because it is fueled by the power of the internet and vicious online attacks can gin up endless support online. The attacks can be relentless, anonymous, and merciless. The damage can be long-lasting, difficult to overcome and ruinous.

The answer to the cancel culture curse is to eliminate it. Cancel culture flies in the face of free speech and democratic values.

We, as a society, have a constructive role to play. We owe it to our neighbors and ultimately ourselves—since any one of us could one day be on the receiving end of a cancel culture mob — to withhold judgment until the facts are known. At a minimum, we should ensure that the individual at the center of the controversy is afforded a fair opportunity to set the record straight and share their side of the story.

The key to mitigating cancel culture is keeping a story from spreading beyond niche audiences. Given that everyone makes mistakes, we should all withhold judgment until the facts of a situation are known. People at the center of controversy should be afforded a fair opportunity to share their side of the story.

When it comes to cancel culture, the process of destroying someone who has made a mistake more closely mirrors rejection. In fact, not only are their attempts at apologizing in word or deed rebuffed, but they are denied the opportunity for full penitence because a cancel vulture mob decrees them utterly irredeemable. 

Here are 3 tips to address cancel culture:

1. Identify the victim/wounded party

2. Determine the legitimacy of the claim

3. Issue an apology from a position of strength

The first step in creating a plan for weathering a cancel culture assault is to set aside the notion that something like this could never happen to you. Proactive planning is a critical step for survival. A cancel culture or crisis communications plan is like insurance – it is there when an emergency occurs.

Media coverage of a cancel culture situation is the equivalent of pouring a gallon of gasoline onto a campfire, instantly converting it into a blazing inferno. Your primary goal is to help frame the narrative in a way that the public will not only understand your perspective but may even empathize with you and extend some measure of grace. Do not accept responsibility for something you did not do in the misplaced hope of relieving your pain and inspiring the cancel vultures to fly off to harass their next prey. The opposite is most likely going to happen, and that apology will be used against you. 

  • Deciding to defend yourself is a key factor for surviving cancel culture.
  • Prepare holding statements for responding to a surge of media inquiries.
  • Only apologize if warranted; and only apologize properly using the elements of an honest apology.
  • Press the Truth® in order to tell your story and ensure that your messages break through.
  • Select a designated method for communicating publicly when under fire.
  • Refuse to be canceled.

It is important to remember that the press often aids and abets cancel culture by widely distributing content and stories that cancel vultures use to mobilize assaults on their chosen targets. Compounding the severity of the problem for those under fire is that the guardrails that society previously expected from mass media have crumbled.

It is bad enough when an online mob brings its collective strength to bear on an individual. It becomes truly overwhelming when the media is co-opted and spreads negative or inaccurate information to an infinitely larger audience.

A bedrock principle of American justice—the presumption of innocent until proven guilty—is turned on its head by cancel culture. A major danger of cancel culture is that salacious accusations are often more memorable and powerful than factual denials. A current level of rage and political frustration that has not existed in decades has also helped fuel the perfect storm for the cancel culture curse.

Have you been #canceled? Red Banyan’s cancel culture and crisis communications professionals have the experience and media savvy to help. Contact Red Banyan for guidance and help. Our team can help you turn the narrative around.