What one person might find funny or entertaining, another person may find it rude and offensive. In the story about the XO sailor movies made on the Enterprise skipper, there were a handful of sailors and officers who thought raunchy and inappropriate movies would be humorous to others on board. But their sarcasm backfired when viewers didn’t find the movies funny or entertaining. Complaints were raised, but their concerns were not taken seriously. Eventually however, the videos did stop, but it wasn’t until the videos and the issues on board were made public. Surprising enough, the Navy does have their own code of ethics.
It’s one thing to make a video and not have the humor come across as you may have hoped, but it’s another thing, and far less ethical, to keep the videos going when there are clear and understandable concerns regarding the video. As soon as complaints were brought to the attention of the officers on board, the videos should have stopped being shown and there should have been a discussion onboard as to whether or not the videos should or shouldn’t continue. When a client has a complaint, it is of utmost importance to try to understand their thoughts and feelings and to try to fix the issue as soon as possible.
This example of the sailor movies goes to show that when making a decision it is important that you look at the decision from other points of view, from the perspective of other stakeholders. I don’t believe the makers of the video ever thought that their sense of “humor” might not be humorous; they never considered that the sarcastic entertainment might be extremely offensive to many viewers. Overall, when using humor or sarcasm, it's important to know your audience and to behave in an ethical manner.
If you plan on making a wise crack, take some of these sarcasm tips from Hollybodger.
USS Enterprise on CNN
In the YouTube video about CNN reporting on the USS Enterprise, Meredith Kruse, Military Editor of The Virginian-Pilot, says that the videos were created in the public affairs department. If so, that not only puts a bad light on the Navy, but also on the government in general. Like Kruse said, the public affairs department is there to report on good things that happen or progress that is being made, not hide controversial material from the public. As a PR professional, hiding information is one of the last things you should ever do.