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Update: Since this story broke, Seasalt & Co. has removed all posts after February 14 from its Facebook page. See end of post for more.


So here's a nice little case study for your How Not To Do Corporate Communications, Ever textbook, and if Yr. Dok Zoom were still teaching business writing, he'd probably get at least one or two class periods out of it. You got this little Florida-based computer graphics concern called "Seasalt & Company," where you "offer Photographic Editing Tools to help artisans creativity thrive." Which is to say, you sell Photoshop add-ons that adjust the lighting and color of photos. You have a new package of somegodddamnedtechthing coming out (really, REALLY unclear, Seasalt & Co!), and you announce it on your Facebook page with the big mysterious teaser pictured above.

And then people start posting a whole bunch of messages asking WTF? You're using lynching imagery to sell a suite of goddamned Photoshop tools? And you decide to roll it out in the middle of Black History Month? YOU DUN GOOFED! Much social media, many completely justified accusations that the image is offensively clueless at best, outright racist at worst. Plus a fair bit of confusion from a few would-be online activists who vow to boycott sea salt. And, needless to say, a smattering of comments asking what the big deal is, it's not like it's really showing a lynching, hanging could just mean like spooky Halloweeny dark filters and why do The Blacks have to make everything racial? It's not racial, shut up.

How on earth are you going to handle this potentially harmful publicity? Well, obviously, if you are Seasalt & Company, you are really good [assumes facts not in evidence -- ed] at graphic design software that allows users to "take your creativity to new heights and transform your art into fine art with easy, fun, and imaginative edits!" -- and you don't know jackshit about communication because you slept through half of Mr. Kelley's Business Writing class and got a D. And so you post the following "Explanation," which makes everything all right and now all the Angry Blacks will leave you alone, right?

Those with concerns about a product of ours, should take proper measures to support their claims. This certain product is not meant to offend anyone nor directed towards any persons, nor has anything to do any certain race. Coming to this page or going to other outlets to express your emotions will not remedy a cure, but spread hate. We have not broken any rights any American has. If you feel your rights are being violated, please contact the civil rights department with your concerns. With or without ones support,we will continue to design our product as it was intend to be made. We are sorry for all those that feel offended, you're not required to agree with or purchase any of our products. There has been a huge misunderstanding what this product represents. We have given several attempts to explain what it is about and it has been apparent our efforts do not matter to those unwilling to make reason and listen. Our product is about having "freedom" not the act of causing anymore harm. We as a company are using our artistic freedom and expression to take a stand against hate and will continue to do so.

That is so very true! They actually have not "broken any rights any American has," and telling people to go contact the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (may as well get the name right, assholes) will certainly make it clear that this really is nothing, move along. Now, we're not quite sure where they've attempted to explain what the product really represents -- there's a tweet that directs to a now-deleted Facebook post, so maybe that was it -- but maybe they've explained it somewhere? Or perhaps that's all covered by "not meant to offend anyone nor directed towards any persons, nor has anything to do any certain race," and so you all need to shut up now. They are very definitely against hate, so stop being so racist by suggesting that their lynching imagery connotes lynching in any way. It's just dark and scary and atmospheric, OK?

After that, just to make your company seem extra super good at communication, you could also start threatening legal action against people who are criticizing you, like jewelry designer Rachel Stewart:

Oh lord. Not only did they sleep through Business Communication, they also took First Amendment law from Sarah Palin.

We're guessing that eventually there'll be a truly sincere "sorry if we offended anyone" notpology, and the product will be renamed something less offensive, like "Spook House," "Heart of Darkness," or "Who's That In The Woodpile."

UPDATE: Seasalt & Co. has removed the announcement, the reply, and everything else posted after February 14 from their Facebook page. The link that used to go to the photo now returns only this:

Their Twitter feed, which we imagine they'll scrub soon enough, still displays tweets linking to the now-deleted content:

"Hanging Tree?" What hanging tree? We have no idea what you people are talking about. We've always been at war with EastHatia.

[Seasalt & Co. on Facebook / Rachel Stewart on Twitter]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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