What Taylor Chapman Learned About Personal Branding

What Taylor Chapman Learned About Personal Branding  image taylorchapman 300x175Taylor Chapman, a 27 year-old marketing practitioner in Ft. Lauderdale, FL learned a very important lesson about social media and personal branding.   What Taylor thought would be an opportunity to shame a retail store into submission actually turned into a personal branding disaster.  FreakOutNation said it best:  “A rude, obnoxious, loud, racist Florida woman videotaped an encounter at Dunkin’ Donuts in Fort Lauderdale and has quickly become despised throughout the Internet. In fact, she had to close her Facebook account.”

Talk about a social media strategy gone terribly wrong.

Taylor Chapman, who works for an SEO company called Power Sales Team, as a “video spokesperson,” didn’t learn the first rule of social media.  That rule is: social media is a fast-moving train with no brakes.  Once you post something on your Facebook page, it can quickly go viral – especially when it involves drama!  You can’t take it back.  You can’t stop the train from rolling along and picking up speed.

What Ms. Chapman also didn’t learn was that the thing you spent years building up can be torn down in just a matter of minutes.   To say that Ms. Chapman’s personal brand is destroyed is an understatement; it’s been beaten into tiny little pieces with a sledgehammer.   But, can she fix this?  Can Ms. Chapman successfully rebuild her brand?

Yes, Taylor Chapman can rebuild her brand.  Ask BP.  They did it!

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What Taylor Chapman should know is that people are fickle and most of us have an extremely short-term memory.   With a solid public relations and social media strategy, Ms. Chapman can take advantage of the fact that most people won’t remember this situation in a couple of years.    The very tools Ms.  Chapman used to destroy her reputation – social media and video – can also be used to rebuild it.

My suggested re-branding strategy for Ms. Chapman:

1.  Go back to the Dunkin’ Donuts store and film a video of herself apologizing to the employees

2.  Post that video on Facebook (she would have to open a new account, of course)

3.  Film a video of herself making a public statement about how inappropriate her behavior was.  She needs to throw herself at the mercy of the entire web population

4.  Do interviews with podcasters and bloggers, emphasizing that she understands her behavior was rude, racist and unacceptable

5.   Get a job working in retail and blog about the rude customers she has to deal with every day.  This will help show that she finally understands what it’s like to be on the other side.

Notice how I mention nothing in this strategy that suggests she explain why she did what she did.  All of my suggestions are meant to position her as someone who has accepted her faults and wants to do whatever she can to make things right.  People don’t like excuses; we like solutions.

For a very long time, potential employers will Google Ms. Chapman and find this horrific Dunkin’ Donuts issue.  She has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting any job that has her dealing with live human beings.  A carefully executed social media and public relations strategy can help her rebuild her personal brand and show potential employers that she’s a changed person.

I wish her luck.

Discuss This Article

Comments: 67

  • szary wilk says:

    You are operating under the assumption that she understands how completely unacceptable and unprofessional her conduct was. The biggest hurdle facing someone who has done something so appallingly ugly (not to mention self-destructive) is to recognize that everything from potentially losing her job (and she should) to the sheer volume of angry Facebook posts/messages are her own fault. Without that personal recognition, all the things done to rectify her misstep will ring false and only further the damage to her “brand”.

  • Great advise, not just for her, but for everyone who has ever “messed up” in public.

    • RojaMitchell – Thanks. This article was really meant for anyone who has messed up BAD and had that disaster documented online. I thought using Taylor Chapman as an example was a great way to start that discussion.

  • ilanie14 says:

    I don’t wish her luck. It seems like you have done something as crazy as this to condone her behavior or you have never had a rude person such as this tell you off in retail. The fact that she did this shows that she does not care. She only decided to care when her image was torn and erase her facebook. And you are condoning her behavior by giving her advice on how to lie through her teeth on how she feels bad when she would only feel bad because her reputation is crushed. You ruined your reputation in my book. You should take your own advice.

    • ilanie14 – I wish her luck because she’ll need it! In my opinion, giving her advice about how to fix her screw up does not mean I condone her behavior. If I turned away every company that approached me to help them with rebranding because I fear someone would think I’m “condoning” their behavior, I’d be broke and sleeping in a cardboard box somewhere.

  • Mac says:

    You’re a freaking genius. Sadly…i don’t think the person who recorded that video is the type of person who would take this excellent advice.

    • Mac – you’re probably right. She’s not ready to take that advice yet. Eventually, she will be. When she can’t find a job and she realizes the extent of the damage she’s done, she’ll be ready to take anybody’s advice.

  • Brianna says:

    Good article. I myself worked in retail after college not just because of the lousy economy, but also because I believe everyone should work in a job like that at least once in their lives. It gave me a real appreciation for the employees I see in stores every day, and I admit that I have since curbed some of my bad customer behavior that I wasn’t even aware of before. I worked in a department store, in the busiest section of all– women’s clothing. I regularly had to maintain a pleasant attitude even though I encountered difficult people every single day. Thanks to that job, I now smile at every employee I see while shopping, and I never, ever, leave clothes piling up in dressing rooms! Had this Taylor Chapman girl walked in a retail employee’s shoes at some point in her life, perhaps she wouldn’t have been so unnecessarily rude and arrogant. If she has in fact worked in retail, shame on her then for learning nothing from that life experience. If there’s a shred of actual intelligence in her, she’ll learn from this horrible mistake of hers and begin working immediately to rebuild her brand.

    • Brianna – thank you for your valuable insight. I’ve worked in retail before, too. And let me tell ya, people can be horrid little creatures when they believe the person behind the counter is “less than” they are. Some time spent working in retail and dealing with that kind of behavior should turn anyone around (as least we hope!).

  • Jeff Tadawigg says:

    You “wish her luck?” You actually want to help her? In life, people make mistakes. THIS was not a mistake. It was a premeditated attack. I hope she gets run over by a bus to make the world a little bit better.

  • Sue says:

    I also wish her luck, and I’m dismayed by those commenters who have such an unforgiving attitude. To “ilanie14″ who said, “It seems like you have done something as crazy as this to condone her behavior” well I can’t speak for the author of this article, but speaking for myself — yes, I have had terrible fits of rage in the past — and I was ALWAYS filled with the deepest shame and remorse afterwards! You have no idea how deeply I regretted my wrongdoing! I was young, just like this woman, and I needed help to deal with all the anger inside of me. Fortunately, I’m older, wiser, and a whole lot calmer than I used to be, and I’m so very grateful to God that my shameful acts were not recorded for the whole world to see. I know that I would have been suicidal over an act such as this! I have done my best to make amends, and today I strive to live a good and decent life, and to do good works. It can be difficult to forgive someone who was so clearly wrong and abusive the way that Taylor Chapman was, but the refusal to forgive makes you every bit as cruel as she was in her video. My thanks to Genia Stevens for your thoughtful article. Keep up the good work.

    • Sue – There are lots of people who read this article who will be disgusted by the fact that I provided this young lady (and other people like her!) some advice. This situation should be viewed as an opportunity to educate and inform others. Some people are very unforgiving – until THEY become the person who needs forgiving. I’m not one of those people.

  • Mish says:

    She made a rude, hateful, ass of herself. The criticism she’s getting now was to be expected. However, people wishing death upon her are certainly no better. She made a mistake, and she’s already paying for it–probably beyond what she deserves. Hopefully, she’ll take a long, hard, look at her own character.

  • Cynthia says:

    KARMA… is what this woman got. I have worked in retail for a long time and yes there are rules. When a customer crosses the line like Chapman did, it is called HARRASSMENT!!! She may have a valid complaint, which entitles her to free donuts, because she wasn’t issued a receipt but went overboard instead. If I was working for DD I would sue her for moral defamation, racial discrimination etc. etc. etc. and ban her from all DD outlets. As for the team workers at DD, you guys did a good job in just listening to her paddy mouth and I commend your manager for training you on how to handle customers as such. As for you Ms. Chapman, before u do anything think, If it’s not going to make you a better person, don’t do it.

    • Cynthia – Agreed. Karma is what she got. And, like I tell people all the time, “Karma will come back and kick your ass all over the place.” Now, Taylor Chapman has some serious damage control to do.

  • Tralfazz says:

    The only thing Ms. Chapman deserves to be served is a massive helping of humble pie. I suspect, given her bully/victim persona, that she sees all this attention as victimization and further proof the world has somehow doen her wrong and not vice versa. Beyond the hatefulness of her words, she comes across as rather– how to say this delicately?– stupid and unbalanced. All her references to “going to Mars” are as disturbing as her belligerence over such a minor slight. And that she’s so paranoid about what the DD staff are going to put in her order (and that she doesn’t care because she’s just going to give it to her boyfriend, anyway)?She comes off not just as nasty but more than a little crazy. She doesn’t need forgiveness or a battle plan to rebuild her brand, she needs therapy. Lots of it. And until she gets help, her picture should be posted to all Dunkin Donuts and she should be refused service henceforth.

    • Tralfazz – one of my first comments on this situation was “Taylor Chapman needs to sit down with a professional and work through her issues.” After therapy, she’ll still need a plan to fix her reputation. Ha!

  • Chad says:

    Or, and this is just a off the cuff idea, she could follow through on a comment she made in her video and actually “blow her brains out”. There is no room in the world for vile little trolls like herself.

  • You forgot the most vital, first step, which is that she should actually change as a human being. Without that, your five steps are worthlessly fraudulent and would eventually backfire.

    • T. Lavon – you are correct. As I told another commentor, sensitivity training is the first step for her. Someone else even mentioned therapy. They’re both very good ideas.

  • John Carter says:

    Before that “most vital, first step,” she has to first become a human being. What she is now is a pitiful waste of oxygen. And this pitiful waste of oxygen likely feels that she is the victim in all this. And as far as her rebranding, it will be years before she is remembered for anything except this video rant. She might change her surname, but the face and that abrasive voice will stick with me forever.

  • John – “What Taylor Chapman should know is that people are fickle and most of us have an extremely short-term memory. With a solid public relations and social media strategy, Ms. Chapman can take advantage of the fact that most people won’t remember this situation in a couple of years.” Nothing reminds me of how fickle people are and how QUICKLY we forget the wrongs people have done more than election season. Trust me. In a couple of years, if people haven’t forgotten Ms. Taylor, they’ll definitely be in that place where they’re willing to forgive her.

  • damian thorne says:

    Typical of “generation me me me”

  • Suzi says:

    #5 could be a problem. What retail company in their right mind would hire this lunatic?

    • I can think of quite a few retail places that would hire Taylor. I’m sure you can think of a few retail places that have hired “less than admirable” employees.

  • Daisy says:

    A lot of people I have talked with about this thinks she was high on meth. Her behavior has that “tweaker vibe”. Maybe 6 weeks in rehab will restore her credibility, along with everything else you suggest.

  • First of all, I want the 8 minutes of my life that I spent watching that train wreck back. Next, I have the opinion that Taylor Chapman will be working in a position similar to the one she denigrated. I can’t see a Marketing company keeping her on. She may have to apply at Dunkin Donuts for a job after sabotaging her life the way that she did. She makes me feel embarrassed to be American, I hope that she grows up some day.

    • Agreed. After her behavior, the only job she might be able to get is mopping floors at Dunkin’ Donuts! They were very nice to her while she berated them. They might be nice enough to give her a job.

  • Gaiusbaltar says:

    This wasn’t a lapse in judgement or a temporary rage-induced mistake. This is a deeply racist person showing her true colors.

    Words like sand-n* don;t come to your mouth unless they’re in your heart. I don’t wish her luck. I don’t wish any racist luck. Yeah they may “need it” as you say, but I’d rather that people like that have as little power as possible.

  • Scott W. says:

    The sad thing is she probably won’t be repentant about this at all. If you look at her youtube page with the video on it, she’s responded to some of the comments with a “look how cool and justified i was” attitude. I have dealt with these sort of customers before and very rarely have any later apologized.

  • Brad says:

    She has a long road to hoe. Not only was she aggressive without remorse to a calm wrong place wrong time employee, her swearing was out of control. She was getting what she wanted yet she kept going on and on….verdict….classless, spoiled attention whore….remember when being 27 meant you were an adult?

    • Classless and spoiled, definitely! And lately, adults don’t seem to want to be adults. She behaved like a 2 year old having a temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store. I bet if we asked her parents, they’d tell you she was the kid who made a big fit about everything she didn’t like.

  • EJ says:

    It is good advice, and I am sure some people will need it, like the ones who actually made a mistake. Not those who made a conscious decision and then eventually wish the consequences weren’t so severe.

    It is nice of you to wish her luck on the principle that she’ll need it, but I tend not to use difficulty as my scale when I wish someone luck and success.

    And about the comment that says our reluctance to forgive is equally cruel: to forgive easily and wish success is to condone. If she turns her image around with cheap pandering and a show of humility, it will just give the impression that this is acceptable behavior to likeminded people and a “mistake,” and that there is a life of success and forgiveness to be had after demonstrating your cruelties for the world to see. Do you think the poor people, especially the young man, in this video will ever cease to be hurt or ashamed by this? No, it is a big part of their lives now. I know I would be horrified if I were even one of the customers. It’s a different story if she truly realizes her error, but she has a long, long way to go when she has a victim complex this deep. The “pangs of regret” obviously aren’t there, as this was a premeditated process stretching over at least a day. Until she learns some decency, the only regret of someone who feels that the world owes her this much will be from having to suffer the injustice of hardship.

    • You stated: “to forgive easily and wish success is to condone.”

      I disagree. No one is condoning her behavior. Just because some of us aren’t wishing she gets run over by a train, it definitely doesn’t mean we condone her behavior. We just don’t want to be just as nasty as she is.

    • EJ says:

      I respect that you disagree, but I did not say anything about her getting hit by a train, or any huge tragedy befalling her. I, too, think there is a limit to how much she should reasonably be expected to pay for her behavior. But having difficulties in her professional career from here on out is not cruel and unusual punishment. It is how it should be, and it is a direct result of her decisions.

      Additionally, I said to forgive easily for a reason. We can and should forgive if she truly repents and feels badly for the right reasons. But to give her a step-by-step list of how to regain success by going through motions and wishing her success without these requirements being fulfilled sets up a system under which people will believe that they can be as unforgiving and rude to other people as they’d like, and that all damages will and should be forgiven by subsequent damage control and publicity stunts. Nevertheless, I do find your sympathy commendable, whether or not we agree on its constructiveness.

  • Daniel says:

    While most of the stuff circulating online that I’ve seen about this incident just trashes this person, you’ve taken the high road and simply used it as a case study in which anyone who publicly screws up (and we all do at some point) can gradually and methodically put things back together if they’re really sincere about it. It’s clear the woman’s disturbed. We don’t need to read all the emotional tweets and posts about that. How can we all learn from this? Moreover, if she felt genuine remorse and were willing to, what can *she* learn from it?

  • Daniel says:

    While most of the stuff circulating online that I’ve seen about this incident just trashes this person (I mean, not that she wasn’t asking for it), you’ve taken the high road and simply used it as a case study in which anyone who publicly screws up (and we all do at some point) can gradually and methodically put things back together if they’re really sincere about it. It’s clear the woman’s disturbed. We don’t need to dwell endlessly over that. More importantly how can we all learn from this? Moreover, if she felt genuine remorse and were willing to, what can *she* learn from it?

  • Loo says:

    This is reminds of the Amy’s Baking Co debacle.

  • Me of course says:

    Facebook does not delete your account. You can not delete your account in facebook. You can only deactivate it and it will come right back. Just letting you know so you can fix your statement.

  • Michael says:

    what you call ‘strategy’ we call insincerity. You suggest she video an apology in front of DunkinDonut employees. Why would DD want to help someone whose only motive for apologizing is to salvage her image? She has a snowball’s chance in hell of being hired by any employer who sees this video. Amen to that. She is what she is and ‘strategy’ doesn’t change what you really are.

  • Thank you for your comments, Michael.

  • Penny says:

    This is great advice. Thank you for taking something so horrid to demonstrate the concept of humility and repentance. I’ve found that it is always better to admit your mistakes and try to make amends even if the person you’ve wronged isn’t willing to accept your apology and extend forgiveness. I do think this young woman will have a long road to go if she chooses to try and salvage her rep at this point. The young man who helped her would probably be willing to forgive and maybe the young lady as well but the internet community might take a lot longer to come around. It does seem that she may have lost her job over this while the young people she targeted may well benefit from what happened. I just hope Ms. Chapman does recognize the mistake she made and does learn from it.

  • Georgie says:

    Well, I would have hoped by now that people would have caught on to the fact that social media is not exactly the best place to be blunt about things or demonstrate your true colors, if you are flaunting some very poor bahaviors and skills. As someone who has interviewed and supervised people, I do a fair amount of research online on those people. Heck, I even look up potential mates. A person’s behavior and correspondence online is a direct reflection of their character. You are committing social and possibly professional suicide when you present yourself in the manner that Ms. Chapman has. I actually hope that she loses her job and that she learns from the backlash she has rightfully earned. I’ve been livid at people before, even at work. I was even in the right in my feelings, however, that rant is best saved for discussions at home with people I trust. The world doesn’t need to know my drama.

  • jay says:

    I just went to her employers website, Power sales team, and they posted on their blog that she is no longer employed with their company. Justice has been served!!!!

  • abudoggie says:

    Genia,
    You have a GENIUS for getting along with people! Honestly, you are amazing. Would that more folks had your skills, or perhaps your temperament ~ probably a combination of the two. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I admire you. I’ve neither the skills or temperament but you make me want to work on it. Thanks for your posts!

  • Me says:

    She didn’t “make a mistake”. This is the way this woman is. This is the way she functions to get what she wants. I work in retail and I encounter this messed up, entitled and abusive character type all the time. Don’t feel sorry for her. Feel sorry for the girl she berated and called a nigger. Feel sorry for the people who had to put up with her abuse. She doesn’t feel sorry for what she did…she’s sorry she got negative attention from it. She’s sorry her plan backfired in her face. She made a specific decision from the moment she went in that store that she was going to put that on Facebook and she did. And she gets whatever is coming to her. Karma is a bitch. Take that for all of us that have to put up with this shit every day!

  • Cherie Born says:

    Taylor Chapman was baker acted 2 years ago in Ocala, Fl on 7/13/2011 and is on medication. Look up http://www.marioncountyclerk.org go under courts click on case search type in Chapman Taylor.

    • Crawford T. says:

      I see an abbreviated record for a closed court case, but no details and nothing about her being Baker Acted or on meds. Do you have any other specifics about this?

  • Crawford T. says:

    Amusing though much of the hullaballoo over this has been, it’s refreshing to see a response to this that simply contains some good common sense, and avoids the sexist/misogynist epithets that have been posted as a response to her racist rants.

    • Cherie Born says:

      Read it again… (Law Enforcement Baker Act). I was taking Taylor Chapman to the centers in Ocala to get her medications changed when we stopped at the gas station she jumped out of the van & ran across state road 200. I called the Marion County sheriff’s Dept. Marion County Sheriff tracked Taylor down just minutes after she fled on foot down the side of the road, just across state road 200. Marion County Sheriff took Taylor Chapman to The Centers where she was Baker acted by the Marion County sheriff. Plain and simple. Yes she is on medications.

  • Professor Blather says:

    You know, I was initially taken aback at the comments above decrying your forgiveness and wishing this disturbed young woman ill.

    I’ve followed this for the last couple days, but I hadn’t seen the video.

    So I went and watched it.

    And concluded that your detractors are largely right: this is way, way beyond forgiveness and redemption. This borders on evil.

    The only mitigating factor here is that she is plainly under the influence of something, and its something harder and darker than alcohol or pot. Meth is a good guess.

    If she wakes up to this evil, I’m with you on your wishing her good luck.

    But based on what I just saw … it’s not likely.

    And I think you’re basic premise is wrong: no mea culpa in history is going to erase that video. The only way she can re-brand herself is with a new identity somewhere far, far away. The best advice would be to change her name, cut her hair and dye it, and move to North Dakota. Nothing else is ever going to help her — ESPECIALLY if she’s actually pursuing a career in either law or public relations.

    Reputation is everything, and it is gone, Permanently. It has truly been nuked from Mars.

    Actually, she has exactly one shot: start telling everyone this was performance art aimed at intentionally creating an Internet brouhaha, that she was just acting.

    That’s her only shot. Because if what I just saw was sincere … well, there is no re-branding evil.

  • Jaye says:

    Chapman isn’t like BP. BP has something people want and need, she has nada.

    I don’t think people say things like she did because they don’t understand, they just don’t care and don’t think their behavior will adversely affect them. Yeah, she MAY do the things suggested, but it’s only because it’ll benefit her, not because she’s sorry, not because the flack has made her see the light and she isn’t a racist anymore.

    Who would believe an apology from her? The only great thing about her actually posting the video is that it will follow her years and years down the line. She’s not a kid who might be clueless, she’s a grown woman who is just too stupid for words. I’m still laughing at the fact that this crazy goat filmed HERSELF making her racist tirade and thought it was a good thing. Who would want to hire someone who’s that dumb? There are a lot of qualified people with less baggage, no one is going to this racist nitwit.

  • Jack Jordan says:

    Sadly this is one of the typical Fort Lauderdale fake girls that I personally deal with almost everyday working at a large Condo in South Florida. Las Olas is just filled with them, such a shame for the people at DD that they had to deal with that first hand. I’ve had my share of Taylor’s over the years and they all seemed to happen in Fort Lauderdale. I grew up in a big city up North and I know some area’s where maybe Miss Taylor would have been lucky to escape through the door alive after a scene like that. I say in time she will be in a porn video soon, I’m sure one dumb ass site will see the money they can make off of her.

  • Michael says:

    What you call strategy I call insincerity. You’ve outlined ways for her to APPEAR like she’s changed and learned. But since it’s all so craftily calculated, we can assume there is no real remorse and no acceptance that the problem is not WHAT SHE SAID, the problem is WHO SHE IS. WHO SHE IS is an immature, petty, self-important, low-class racist. We has to realize WHAT SHE IS is the problem and make it her mission in life to join the rest of us MORTALS who rely on politeness and tack to get along in this world. Obviously being a young white female in sunny fun-loving Florida has allowed her to skate on thin ice but that party is over. No amount of strategy will hide what you are. PR people never understand that the public is as stupid as they think we are.

  • Jordan says:

    Oh, this is all very interesting in theory but I think the true testimonial would be would YOU hire her and, if so, why? Is it as easy to take your own advice as it is to sell it?

  • Teresa says:

    As sick and disgusting as this video was (which obviously backfired from her original intention) I do believe this women has some sort of a mental illness or had a breakdown even. No logical sane person would make a video like this and expect ANYONE to be on their side.

    I feel horrible for the employees, I too have worked in the service industry and experienced abuse by customers, but NOTHING like this. I think they both deserve a noble peace prize for dealing with her so rationally.

  • barbaraann72 says:

    Everyone loves a good villain, but more so if they are redeemed. Taylor Chapman might be pulling what she considers to be a great stunt. Her personal history reads like a made for tv movie.
    She has said that when she is ready she will make a public statement, but it won’t be free. She appears to be attempting to make a bit of cash out of some sort of media deal.

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