Steve Harvey-Crisis Management 101

When looking back at the last few years of political social and economic scandals that required major PR TLC, only one came to mind that felt worthy enough to write about. That was the great Steve Harvey Miss Universe mess up of 2015. So for those who don’t know about this iconic moment in time when the world stopped (only kidding, it was just so comical), Steve Harvey was given the honor of hosting the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant. During the crowning of the winners of the pageant, Steve Harvey made the fatal mistake of mixing up the first runner up (Miss Colombia) and the actual winner of the pageant (Miss Philippines), which resulted in a very awkward situation. Now this issue, as expected, went incredibly viral. It was seen on all social medias, discussed on online forums and in the media as everyone asked “What happened, Steve Harvey?”

So at first look to those, like myself, who couldn’t care less about a blunder during a televised pageant. However, I’m sure Steve Harvey’s publicist would look into the importance of why what he did, was seen as so wrong. This would be part of the proactive stage of the DUH DUH DAH DAHHH : Crisis Management Life Cycle! The proactive stage includes environmental scanning. This is what research on the pageant would be. This research would show why the pageant was so relevant, why so many people watched it and who Steve Harvey should target his public apology to. Now I don’t know if I have all the resources of Steve Harvey’s PR team, but I have something pretty close: the GV library database.

So it turns out that the Miss Universe Pageant has seen more political action than one would have initially expected but in a nutshell, Miss Universe is an annual televised beauty international beauty pageant held in more than 190 countries and seen by more than half a billion people. The Pageant was founded in 1952 and has seen 64 winners since (Koblin 2015).  Now this came as a surprise, Donald Trump used to be the co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization. However, in light of his recent campaign slogans and messages, slandering Mexicans, The Miss Universe Organization cut ties with its business relationship with Trump (Newstex Trade & Industry Blogs 2015).

Now, for someone who doesn’t follow the Miss Universe Pageants, this was not relevant to me. BUT, I am not who I am trying to reach as a market, in Steve Harvey’s case we can assume that certain viewers of the pageant were aware of this and still continued to watch and support the program meaning that many viewers were ok with the Donald Trump not being a business partner, which probably means they have no interest in his political affiliations as well.

In addition to this, the age of this pageant shows how successful it has been and how popular is has grown seeing that it is a televised event.

From this information on the background, we can move into the strategic phase of the cycle. This is the part in the cycle when the product, or person in our case begins positioning themselves in a way that the outcome is in their favor. This was done by out very own Steve Harvey by initially taking the blame for the mixup at the event itself. This gains the sympathy of viewers before an official public apology is even made. Because of this initial strategy, any post interview or press release can be done without having to address any sort of aggressiveness and again put Steve Harvey in a position of “just making a mistake anyone could have”.

After strategic setup, the reactive stage of the conflict management cycle includes what is referred to as “Crisis Communication”. Now normally used for states of emergencies such as terrorists attacks or epidemics, Crisis Communication involves debriefing about a situation attempting to diminish any uncertainty about the conflict at hand. This happened when Steve Harvey attended the post show press conference, which he was not initially intending to (Lee 2016). “I wasn’t scheduled to be at a press conference, so I went to the press conference and made all the apologies there … Here’s the situation: Now, when the mistake was made, when I said the wrong woman’s name, I can only give information I had. No one knows, and that information is not in the teleprompter because you’ve got two women standing there. I read what was on the teleprompter, then I read what was on the card” said Harvey in an Interview with Us Weekly. Through this Steve Harvey Explains what exactly happened on his end of the situation, not necessarily passing blame on anyone but showing that more than just his mixing up of names needed to be factored into the situation.

After a fifteen day hiatus, Steve Harvey spoke out and discussed the entirety of the situation with Us Weekly. This moves the conflict management cycle into the recovery stages. This was done when Harvey appeared on a circuit of interviews with the current Miss Universe 1st Runner up, Miss Colombia. “I was ashamed at the mistake, but I was also a little bit angry at the mistake. A lot of people could have stepped up and said, ‘I played a role in this too. I made a mistake too.’ Nobody did,” Harvey explained. “I read the teleprompter and clearly I read what it said to read. And then I followed the direct instruction in my ear. We went straight from ‘And the new 2015 Miss Universe is’ and when he said read the card, all the cards in rehearsal never had any of that on there except [for the] name” said Harvey when he explained fully what happened that evening (Webber 2016). This stage shows all the signs of reputation management and image restoration as Harvey accounts his side of the story, explaining that there was more than met the eye, making him seem less at fault and more as the lovable Family Feud host we all know and enjoy.


Kolbin, J. (2015). Trump Sells Miss Universe Organization to WME-IMG Talent Agency. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Mediaite: Univision cuts ties with donald trump’s ‘miss universe’ pageant after his mexico comments (2015). . Chatham: Newstex. Retrieved from

Lee, E. (2016). Steve Harvey Finally Breaks Silence About Miss Universe Blunder: Miss Colombia Hasn’t Responded to Me at All. Us Weekly. Retrieved from

Webber, S. (2016).  Steve Harvey on Miss Universe Flub: ‘A Lot of People Could Have Stepped Up’ and Said ‘They Played a Role’. Us Weekly. Retrieved from


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