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Top Notch Tuesday: Spotlight on Paula Deen

My social media networks are flooded with people whom I follow based on their expertise, interesting character, and inspiring words. I follow tons of writers, publicists, and media professionals who constantly remind me to continue to strive for my goals. I created Top Notch Tuesday as a way to share with my readers the inspiration that I get from the people I follow, and to also remind them of the inspiration that they can get from the people they follow. Regardless of your area of expertise, networking and the sharing of ideas is essential to your long term growth.

I had originally planned on featuring a different person for my first Top Notch Tuesday [ TNT ]. I wanted to feature a spotlight on someone who has given me inspiration with their posts across many different media outlets. But then it dawned on me; MY TNT is not necessarily everyone else's TNT. I also decided that perhaps a TNT feature should also feature what NOT to do with the public platform you were given. With the controversy in the news this week, it became evident that I needed to feature Ms. Paula Deen for my first TNT.

Paula Deen has become a household name over the past several years with her cooking shows, cookbooks, and restaurants. Her larger than life Southern Belle persona has warmed the hearts of many, and made them fall in love with happy-go-lucky southern style cook. This week, however, has proved to be a nightmare for Deen, as a taped deposition featured her admitting to using racial slurs and telling inappropriate racist jokes. The media uproar immediately ensued, and ended with The Food Network deciding not to renew her contract for her show. Some people have cheered on the network for taking a stand against bigotry, while others have come out in droves to support her. There have been protests both good and bad in front of her Savannah Georgia restaurant, and interviews with locals with mixed emotions. Deen has even released videos of her apologizing to her fans for her "lapse in judgment" and horrendous mistake. But for some loyal followers, her apology has not been enough.

Being a public figure comes with a sense of responsibility that is often unfair. However, as many have stated in the past, it is understood that it is all a part of the game and that everyone needs to adhere to certain mores of society. There are people who look up to public figures, whether fairly or unfairly, and expect a certain sense of fairytale behavior from them. Once the person has broken the public's trust, they are often crucified and lose their seat in the public eye. A few months or years down the line, and people are saying "Oh yeah...I remember her".

Thus is the case with Paula Deen. Deen was not only a cook on a show, she was an entertainment personality. Her booming laugh and slow southern drawl attracted the masses and won over the hearts of Americans of all races and socio-economic statuses. While Deen insists that her mishaps were done many many years ago, the people are not happy with her letting them down. The let down is not related to how good her meatballs taste; It's related to her entire brand. People feel as though they've been duped. They feel as though they were falsely coerced into giving their emotional heart strings to someone who may have hatred in her heart for them. People are upset that their fantasy of spending the night at Deen's country estate and being met at the door with open arms is all a farse. Once you give your heart to a celebrity, they had better own up to the loyalty the public holds so dearly.

Before this week Deen could have been considered to be the ultimate TNT. She had created a brand that no one else shared with her at the time. Paula Deen's brand was not just for self proclaimed foodies; it was for everyone who thought of her as the friendly neighbor next door who invited you over for lemonade and pound cake. Her recipes and cooking show appearances were not just about her food; they were about her friendliness and the way she made you smile.  This new scandal has caused a major destruction of her entire brand. If people are no longer trusting of your personality, what do you do? How do you bounce back and create a new image for yourself that allows the people to trust you again? And to make matters worse, Deen worsened her situation by flaking out on an interview with The Today Show's Matt Lauer, where she was scheduled to discuss the controversy. Seems as though Deen needs someone along the likes of Olivia Pope to help fix her situation. If not, this may be the end of her public persona.

What do you think of the Paula Deen controversy? Do you hold her accountable to make things right with her fans?