Crisis Communications: Cracking Cancel Culture by Emily Ellis

April 11, 2022

Last month, members of our team attended P World’s Crisis Communication Bootcamp, alongside other communications professionals from multiple industries. While crisis communications is an area, we, as an agency, know well – as lifelong learners, we value keeping informed on this dynamic and essential skill. One important emerging influence is “cancel culture” and we are eager to share some insights on this from our Bootcamp experience.

Merriam-Webster defines cancel culture as “the practice or tendency of engaging in mass cancelling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.”

Despite its seemingly recent awareness, cancel culture has been entrenched in our society for decades. The accessibility of the internet and the rise of social media has created growing forums for public boycotts and demands of accountability. Cancel culture has evolved to change the way we communicate and how we hold people accountable. And in many cases, they DO need to be held accountable.

The weaponization of social media

Social media’s power, popularity and uncontrollable virality has revealed unimaginable disruptions and hostility towards transgressors. This has illuminated the longstanding injustices deeply rooted in society and demands accountability from those who formerly may have been immune to the consequences of actions or comments (i.e. public figures).

In 2020, cancel culture dominated social media platforms as the pandemic, tied with ongoing societal and political inequities, increased. The murder of George Floyd and the resulting rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement demanded social change and accountability.

Social media’s ability to rapidly issue information and spur groups and movements with shared beliefs or actions, has both positive and perverse intentions and impacts. The more devastating results can lead to (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Boycotting or ‘cancelling’ a person or brand
  • Misinformation & disinformation campaigns being circulated and/or escalated
  • Radicalization & recruitment of a particular organization or cause

Read the full post here.


crisis communications cancel culture