BOMBERS DOPING SCANDAL IS PR DISASTER OF THE DECADE!

Essendon Bombers 'win at all costs', won it Australia's PR disaster of the decade.

Essendon Bombers ‘win at all costs’, won it Australia’s PR disaster of the decade.

As the PR industry’s unofficial watchdog – we can reveal Australia’s biggest PR disasters of 2015 – and of the decade too! In our 10th anniversary since the ‘PR Disasters’ book and blog were launched in 2005, we have used independent data analysis from a global media monitoring company to define Australia’s biggest PR blunders of the last ten years.

The Bombers doping scandal gained nearly double the negative media mentions (89,685)  than the runner up – a massive victory for any football team!

The Australian PR Disaster Awards highlight the worst examples of business, celebrity, government, media and sports PR “miss-steps”. They assess PR problems in both traditional and online spaces, including social media. To qualify as a PR disaster, the incident must result in sustained, negative media coverage for the brand, business or person at the centre of the story. The winners are based upon the number of media mentions the issue gets (online and offline) and the amount of negative sentiment in that coverage. Australia’s Top 5 PR Disasters of the decade (biggest first) were:

  1. Essendon Bombers – supplements scandal (89,685 pieces of media coverage)
  2. Gillard/Labor Party Carbon Tax – Julia’s short-lived legislation (46,439)
  3. Abbott’s wink and ‘shirtfront’ – the ex-PMs blokey machismo (29,983)
  4. Qantas’ – its grounding of fleet and ‘luxury’ #socialmediafail (18,868)
  5. Volkswagen emissions – the emissions cheating scandal (12,341)

2015’s top five PR blunders were:

1               Volkswagen – the auto marque’s fake emissions scandal (12,341)                2               Joe Hockey – the former Libs treasurer’s “get a good job” jibe (7,262)       3               Belle Gibson – fraudulent claims of a cancer-curing blogger (6,792)           4               Bronwyn Bishop – ‘Chopper-gate’ trip took gaffes to a new high (4,390)  5               Australian Border Force – show of force turned to a PR farce (3,292)

Commenting on changes in the PR disaster phenomenon, PR Disasters analyst and author Gerry McCusker, commented: “Social media has the ability to turn a misstep into a marathon media nightmare. Cheating and insensitivity – which both rupture trust – are the biggest catalyst of PR and reputation blunders.”

PR Disaster Awards – nominations and data flowing in

Have we missed anything you thought was a public relations gaffe in Australia this year?

Here are some of the PR blunders jostling for 2015’s PR disaster accolade. The initial data is in but we’re still crunching numbers and processing sentiment before we decide the year’s biggest blunder. Whatcha think?

7-Eleven staff low wages fiasco

Australia Border Force; ‘clumsy’ press release

Belle Gibson – blogger who cured her own cancer

Bernard Tomic Miami arrest

Bill Shorten union Commission

Bronwyn Bishop choppergate scandal

Joe Hockey – get a good job that pays good money

Nick Kyrgios

Volkswagen emissions scandal

Woolworths ‘Lest We Forget’

Clumsy media release causes PR disaster for Border Force

“ABF officers will be positioned at various locations around the CBD speaking with any individual we cross paths with…”

This is the ABF media statement (below) which saw civil (kinda) rights protesters gridlock parts of Melbourne’s CBD today. As a stakeholder engagement piece it was stupendously successful – not only were parts of the statement provocative and “Orwellian” (h/t protester sound bite) but it also directed anti-AFB activists where to congregate to spoil the (media) party. It’s also the first time I’ve queried the wisdom/value of equipping media releases with ‘social share’ buttons (foot of page). This facility possibly enabled protesters to quickly share and amass their forces to disrupt the inter-agency “initiative”. As many PRs on the planet will be musing…there but for the grace of God go I…

Bordfer Force PR disaster

Tomic arrest, Kyrgios tantrums – an issue of character

Tomic&Kyrgios

In sports – think AFL, cricket and NRL for example – we often see how the PR gaffes of individuals or small groups have the ability to tarnish the reputation of the code or sport they represent. To my PR eyes, Tennis Australia is experiencing it differently; despite being dragged into unseemly PR disasters via the childlike antics of Messrs Tomic and Kyrgios, the public is able to clearly see where the root of the wrongs lie. It’s said that you can’t control your reputation, only your character. Culpability for these repeated, tennis-related PR disasters lies squarely at the baby feet of a couple of flawed characters whose actions speak as loud as their often immature utterances. I hope they will soon listen to the experience, strength and wisdom that, surely, must be being offered to them.

Treasurer Hockey pays for his cheap advice

MP Andrew Leigh MP launches an online political attack saying that a “median-priced house now costs over $666,000 – that’s more than six times average incomes. Where are all these ‘good jobs’ the Treasurer says will help you pay for that?”

Treasurer Joe quickly became the subject of a social media backlash

Treasurer Joe quickly became the subject of a social media backlash

Belle Gibson; extinguished (distinguished) psychopath ?

Online, anyone can pretend to be anything they like. Social lives get ‘larged’ on social networks, suitors misrepresent on dating websites, resumes get burnished on Linkedin. Some even claim to have self-cured from cancer, blogged on the topic and profited hugely from a book and wellness App based on a BFL (big fat lie). So, is it just PR spin, web entrepreneurialism, shysterism or even a case of a psychological malaise – as is subtly questioned in this useful News Ltd piece...

As ever was, PR reparations start with “Sorry”, and proceed to responsible, remedial action.