09 Jan Seven PR Disasters of 2019 We’ll Always Remember
The Prince of Blunder
“Train wreck.” “Royal mess.” “A huge mistake.” Ostensibly in hopes of clearing his name from accusations of sexual misconduct and scrutiny of his friendship with accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, The UK’s Prince Andrew’s BBC interview did neither. Nope. Not by a very, very long shot. Clearly without any media training, the Prince’s rambling, unapologetic, uncomfortable, strange manner only heaped more suspicion.
The Silent CEO
Boeing Co.’s now-former chief executive officer Dennis Muilenburg’s week of silence after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was a gargantuan error. He ignored the PR ‘golden hour’ rule: What you do in the first 60 minutes after a calamity often determines whether your event remains manageable or erupts into a full-blown crisis.
Hallmark’s decision to pull — and then reinstate — an ad showing lesbian brides is on everyone’s PR blunder list. Tone deaf, it not only alienated an important audience; it offended everyone. News Flash: Homophobia doesn’t build brands.
Multinational tech company Apple’s delay in fixing a bug in their Facetime software that let callers secretly listen in on the people they were calling – Yikes! The company’s slow response gave media an opportunity to magnify the story even further, renewing concerns about the company’s commitment to security and the overall reliability of Apple products.
Nike’s high-profile embarrassment when, Zion Williamson, basketball’s top player, had his Nike shoe fall apart during a major game. Worse yet, former President Obama, watching the game from the stands, mouthing, “His shoe broke.” Williamson’s resulting knee sprain kept him out for the season. How big of a deal was this? Nike lost about $1.1 billion in market capitalization. The worst thing for a good PR plan is a bad product.
Pharma Family Fiasco
After Purdue Pharma was forced to own up to their culpability for the opioid crisis that has claimed thousands of lives across the U.S., public attention turned to owners The Sackler Family. Formerly a key philanthropic source for the art world, the family’s donation to museums and other nonprofit beneficiaries were being given back amid cries of “reputation laundering.” The lesson? No amount of charitable work can make up for an enterprise that ethically falls short for consumers.
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