Australia's 2011 PR Disasters Awards announced

For the second consecutive year, Qantas has topped the list of the annual PR Disasters Awards conducted by PR watchdog and blogsite And for the first time in the awards’ history, the airline had three embarrassing PR glitches feature in the year’s top ten most talked about PR nightmares. Here are Australia’s Top 10 PR Disasters for 2011 (biggest disaster first):
1. Qantas grounding – business decision that inconvenienced and angered a nation
2. Qantas luxury Tweet – poorly conceived Twitter promo which drew ire not idolising
3. Brendan Fevola – termination of troubled star’s contract with Brisbane Lions
4. Tony Abbott – mute, shaking-head TV interview freeze
5. Qantas ‘golliwogs’ – social media rugby promo, which catalysed a racial brouhaha
6. Ricky Nixon – PR fallout from unseemly association with the St Kilda teen
7. Larissa Behrendt – bitchy comments against Bess Price published on Twitter
8. Kyle Sandilands – personal vendetta against a journo forced a humiliating apology
9. Australian Defence Force – Cadet Skype-cam sex scandal
10. Gasp Retail – bad customer service flowed from in-store to email; a PR 101 fail!
While the unprecedented grounding of its fleet ensured that Qantas topped the list of 2011’s biggest PR blunders, “the flying kangaroo” also took out second spot with its ill-fated ‘luxury pyjamas’ promotion on Twitter. Its rugby related ‘racism’ gaffe – where Wallaby supporters went ‘blackface’ to win a promotional prize – also edged into the awards’ top five. Troubled footy star Brendan Fevola’s much talked about fall from AFL grace and Tony Abbott’s ‘stunned mullet’ TV interview with Seven News reporter Mark Riley also earned a top five placing.
The Awards – calculated by online monitoring agency CyberChatter – highlight the worst examples of business, celebrity, government, media and sports PR blunders. The results assess the most talked about PR disasters in both traditional and online media, including social media spaces. To qualify as a PR disaster, the incident must catalyse sustained, negative media coverage for the brand, business or person at the centre of the story.
Gerry McCusker, author of the ‘PR Disasters’ book and blog commented:
“The data suggests that microblog tool Twitter is most often used to vent anger at brands and personalities who get their PR wrong. And the most vocal Aussie critics appear to be those in the 25-34 age bracket, although over-50s were out in force against the Qantas grounding.
Louise Di Francesco of Cyber Chatter added:
“Using our online and social media tracking technology, we’ve crunched the amount of online conversations relating to PR gaffes and the tone of those conversations. This allows us to accurately gauge the impact of these PR disasters on the public perception of the brands and people Australians are most closely following – and judging.”

4 thoughts on “Australia's 2011 PR Disasters Awards announced

  1. Pingback: PR watchdog names Qantas grounding the biggest PR disaster of 2011 - mUmBRELLA

  2. Pingback: Qantas wins at the 2011 Top PR disasters awards

  3. Pingback: Making the List of the Most Unadmired Companies Survey | Deon Binneman on Reputation

  4. An 8,000-word suicide note

    On 28 June, 2013 Kevin Rudd presented himself to the media as the returned Prime Minister and ruined the ALP’s chance of winning the general election.
    One needs only to be a Rolling Stones fan to appreciate the poignancy of his attempt to act out the words of It’s Only Rock ‘n ‘ Roll by suiciding right on stage; he did it with these words:
    On the broader question of party reform, can I say this: I am revolted by what I have seen unfold in New South Wales.
    I am revolted by what I have seen unfold through the ICAC inquiry.
    I am revolted that this could’ve been seen to have been acceptable practice.
    I will therefore be having a very deep discussion with cabinet colleagues of an entirely political nature about the new direction for New South Wales and more broadly, where we go on the overall remit of party reform nationwide.

    Perhaps this is here his media conference should have ended. But, Kevin Rudd is like the old Eveready bunny: he can’t – or won’t – stop.
    The full transcript of his press conference ran over 8,000 words (including the questions.) He didn’t personally utter that many words.

    After months of navel-gazing within the Federal ALP; with senior Ministers appearing daily on television to say they were focused on the task at hand, rather than pursuing internal fights; why? … why on earth? …would the former leader and Prime Minister v2.0 draw attention to:
    (a) Problems within the NSW ALP – albeit that none of the ICAC suggestions to which he referred had been proven; indeed, Rudd never crossed the threshold of the hearing rooms. We generally prefer a Minister or PM to look deeper than newspapers, blogs, gossip, or TV grabs in assessing a political issue.
    (b) his return to the eternal internal debate within his party ; and
    (c) who ever said that the alleged shenanigans were “acceptable” practice? The flaw is in the construction of the ICAC – it is not a court. It has the power to abuse and to show off, but no power to penalise. Justice begins in court.

    From a PR point of view, the Federal leader should not try to hide these issues. Surely, though, immediately after Her Excellency the Governor-General’s swearing him again, it was not to these internal problems that the leader needed to draw attention.
    After months of “internal” debates, which managed regularly – daily! -to be reported publicly, this was a return to exactly what had driven many supporters of his party to despair.
    This was not the new start that usually accompanies the swearing of a new leader.
    As PR practitioners, we are not obliged to promote a client’s difficulties to Page One. Politicians are not obliged to be there either, as long as we provide an accurate and honest overview of the issue, and a sound solution, the facts will be equally acceptable .


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