Kickstarter: A lesson in how to apologize



"We were wrong."

That's the title of the apology that Kickstarter posted on its blog yesterday. It's short. It's to-the-point. And in a world where too many companies will bend over backwards to avoid saying the W-word, it's refreshing.  

Kickstarter, which bills itself as the world's largest funding platform for creative projects, got into hot water when a growing number of people started complaining about one of the projects on its site. The project in question, a 'seduction guide' titled, "A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women", contained material that many found highly offensive.

Kickstarter was apprised of the growing dissent about the project but decided not to pull it from their site.

The public outcry continued to grow with many voicing their displeasure about the company's decision. Yesterday, Kickstarter issued a formal apology, saying its decision not to pull the project was wrong.

As far as apologies go, this one is very well done. It's genuine. It conveys sincere regret. And it includes a plan for trying to make up for its error in judgment (including banning so-called seduction guides in the future and giving a $25,000 donation to an anti-sexual violence organization).

What's also noteworthy about the apology is the fact that Kickstarter included a link to a cached version of the project in question. For many companies, their first instinct would have been to delete the offending content and banish it from the Internet forever. By including the link to the project, Kickstarter is reinforcing its commitment to transparency.   

If you're responsible for your company's leadership function or corporate communications group, you may want to bookmark Kickstarter's apology and label it 'just in case'. Hopefully, you won't find yourself having to apologize to an angry public about your company's products or decisions anytime soon. But if you do, their apology is a great place for you to start.  

It's also worth checking out the comments below the apology (currently 1,100 and counting) and the media coverage Kickstarter has generated in the past 24 hours or so. Based on these comments and articles, it appears that the public has not only forgiven Kickstarter, but actually has an elevated view of the company because of the quality, sincerity and substance of its apology.

You can read Kickstarter's apology here.