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Elmo’s PR Crisis
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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Oh, the shame! Oh, the horror! Poor Elmo!

Elmo, the red, fuzzy puppet  of Sesame Street character loved by millions of toddlers and young children, not only has lost his voice (temporarily) but his parent organization, Sesame Workshop, has had to go to crisis PR mode.

National media reported on November 12 that Kevin Clash, the puppeteer “who voices superstar Elmo, has taken a leave of absence” from Sesame Workshop “to fight charges that he had a relationship with a teenage boy several years ago.” The children’s media empire not only disciplined Clash but issued a statement saying, "Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world."

Then, just earlier this week, came news that Clash had resigned from his Sesame Workshop position due to the scandal becoming a distraction from Sesame Workshop’s mission. In a statement on its “News from the Neighborhood Blog, Sesame Workshop noted on November 20th that, “Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us wants, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street.”

To this flack, from reviewing the various statements posted on its blog website about the Clash controversy, it appears Sesame Workshop has responded to this crisis and setback for its image in an exemplary fashion.

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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