tonic.com makes lemonade.

You’ve probably heard about Constance McMillan the Mississippi teen whose high school canceled its prom because she wanted to bring her girlfriend as her date.

From a public relations standpoint, Itawamba Agricultural High School is taking the brunt of negative publicity right now. But Ellen DeGeneres and Tonic.com have made lemonade out of the controversy by giving McMillan a $30,000 college scholarship.

This is a bit of a lesson in cause marketing/PR and when, where and how to take a stand on hot-button issues. Ellen DeGeneres and Tonic.com are the clear winners. Itawamba High School officials probably made gains with folks as well, but overall the press has been decidedly more negative.

True, a public high school doesn’t have the same bottom line considerations as a business and offiicials were thrust into a challenging position. Unfortunately, they handled it wrongly. Punishing all the prom attendees appears more spiteful than principled.

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