How Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop rebuilt its reputation after crisis

by | Mar 31, 2020 | Public Relations

Founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 2008, wellness and lifestyle brand Goop has been hit by its fair share of criticism over the years. From allegations of privilege to pseudoscientific language, debate over the brand’s product claims has been more or less non-stop; an investigation into Goop’s infamous jade and quartz eggs resulted in a $145,000 settlement.

How Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop rebuilt its reputation after crisisNot to be outdone, however, Goop took the bull by the horns this year when it launched The Goop Lab, a six-part Netflix series that dealt with a range of topics, from female sexual health to psychedelics. The docuseries represented an attempt to paint a more full picture of Goop than headlines have ever allowed, and break down some of the more polarizing opinions of the brand.

“Instead of defining [the company] based on headlines only, people actually watch the episode, particularly critics and people in the media,” Goop Chief Content Officer Elise Loehnen explains, “they watched the episode, and then they responded to it. So I think people got a much fuller picture of what we’re actually about.”

How Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop rebuilt its reputation after crisisAt the same time, Goop has invested in its regulatory team, beefing up on lawyers and scientists in product development, and revising its external communications from a compliance perspective.

“We didn’t realize, for example, that when someone talked about their experiences with the jade egg…we just didn’t have that in-house expertise,” continues Loehnen, “So now we are much, much more buttoned up.”

Goop’s successful course correction presents a number of important lessons for businesses facing similar perception challenges. Here are the top three takeaways from Goop’s turnaround:

1. Community matters

No matter the size of a business, bearing the brunt of viral negative public opinion doesn’t necessarily spell the end of that brand. All it means is that the people who matter to your business are hearing negative information, and that is casting doubt on a brand. This is an issue that can be tackled—and can even be the impetus for positive change in the long-term.

2. Prepare beforehand

In the midst of a PR crisis, it can be difficult to think clearly. It is vital, then, that brands already have a foundation in place so that they don’t lose control of the company’s narrative once a PR crisis takes hold. To do that, brands need to anticipate perception risks, and plan actionable steps in advance.

3. Take responsibility

While most PR crises would never blow up in the first place if the businesses took effective preventative steps, some incidences are unavoidable. All brands can do is limit the long-term damage of a crisis as it unfolds.

This means taking responsibility where it is due. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean a business should say things it doesn’t mean—it just means being transparent and proactive in all communications. If a brand can make audiences feel heard, it is well on its way to a turnaround of its own.

Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian founded 5WPR, a leading PR agency..