PR Crisis: Nicki Minaj vs Giuseppe

Nicki Minaj, rapper and designer, is known for her risque word play and has no reservation when it comes to putting someone in their place.

This morning was no different when she put designer Giuseppe on blast for creating a sneaker line using her name but refused to answer her calls to discuss (stated Minaj on Twitter).

According to Minaj, when she met Giuseppe Zanotti, he told her she inspired him and at that point designed a sneaker for Minaj. Since then, she has never been in talks with the designer about creating a full line using her name or likeness.

As a Barb myself, I can tell you that Minaj’s followers have not and will not take this lightly. They have already began to troll Giuseppe on social media using the hashtag #GiuseppeWhatsGood

This brings up a great point that every business owner needs to understand. You cannot use someone’s likeness without their knowledge or permission and get away with it. As a business owner, you are fully responsible for the repercussions that may come with doing so. With Giuseppe being an international brand, you would assume they would have thought this one through. Apparently not!

Another thing to consider as a business owner is having a crisis PR plan in place in the event that an incident were to occur. The scenarios would depend on the industry you work in. For example, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams went through a PR crisis when listeria was found in their food on two separate occasions. In this case, they were proactive and had a plan in place to combat this. Two things to consider when creating a crisis plan for your business:

    1. What are common risks that I may face in this industry?
    2. What will be my first action items if said events were to occur?

As for Giuseppe, Minaj has given the company 24 hours to call her and from there, it is still in the air as to what will happen. For now she is running a poll and allowing her followers to dictate the fate of Giuseppe.

TJE Communications is a digital marketing agency set out to level the playing field for small, women owned businesses. For business inquiries, please contact

What can we learn from the “Pretty on Fleek” drama?

It is no secret that I am a Barb but this post will remain unbiased.

Recently Nicki Minaj and Christina Milian got into a mild spat over the phrase Pretty on Fleek

Apparently Christina owns an online boutique that sells clothing with popular sayings on them. One of the recent shirts say Pretty On Fleek which is a line from Nicki’s song featuring Beyoncé titled Feeling Myself

Nicki made a joke about this by saying on her Instagram:

“Fleek by Onika – I saw Christina selling tshirts that say Pretty On Fleek, I was waiting on my percentage at the door! *tilts head*”

To be fair, Nicki did say Pretty on fleek on the track. However, the real person who is owed a percentage is the person who started this “On Fleek” era. 

What can learn from this?

The person who started “on Fleek” probably had no idea it would take off as fast and as far as it did. But, it did. 

Remember, the the lovely folks of social media don’t owe you homage. They can screen shot or imitate what you do and there is no guarantee you will always be credited for your work. Unless you own it. Then you can sue them.

For example: Ms. Ester Jones aka Baby Ester, African-American entertainer from the 1920’s, was known for her singing style that often included a “Boop oop a doop.” After Helen Kane imitated the style and called it her own, cartoonist Max Fleischer created the Betty Boop character. Kane tried to file a lawsuit against Fleischer only for the courts to decide that Kane was not the orginator of the Betty Boop style. Ester Jones died before she was able to receive any monies from the lawsuit that proved she was the original Betty Boop.

You have to protect yourself and your brand. I recently had a meeting with Keya Crenshaw, Founder and CEO of Black Chick Media, who informed me that copyright and trademark are two vital parts of a small business that most people forget about. It is true that it is an extensive and costly process, however, it’ll be all worth it in the end!

Have any copyright and trademark tips for entrepreneurs? Share with us so that we can inform our readers.