Wedding in India, study trip to Malaysia,
cycling jaunt to Tour de France (A Labor one) – the reasonable voice of Liberal politics in Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, warns his buddies that a PR disaster this early into their tenure is not a good a good look and, if in doubt, leave it out…
Forbes magazine’s Cork-based correspondent David Monagan said he feels “horrible” and has readily apologised for a brain snap which saw him proclaim in print that the happily married President of Ireland was a poet and “acknowledged homosexual” (they don’t go hand in hand) in an article for the influential US business bible.
A Manly (Sydney) librarian has redefined Lance Armstrong’s place in the annals of cycling history.
What kind of political media and reputation adviser would pen and send an email lambasting one professional woman’s views on the lack of female representation in politics? Erm, one called Max Tomlinson would…
Again and again I say that I’m not a fan of Facebook for organisations with contentious public profiles or business activities, and I’m equally leery when those organisations have staff who may not have developed sensitivity or discretion about how and what they may post on such a visible platform as Facebook. When this happens, it’s little wonder that social media becomes PR disaster fodder. So when an org like the Aussie Army tries to “get with it” re social media, it should surprise no-one that the content of that page should contain racist, sexist and prejudiced comments from soldiers who, let’s generalise, ain’t typically the world’s most sensitive or poetic souls. Memo to Army and other forces; think of the strategy and rationale of why you use any given platform; brainstorm the possible downsides; pick a platform that best suits purpose of the strategy; and pre-engagement, do extensive staff briefings about their responsibilities when using these social platforms. Next!
For me, the most ironic and iconic PR disasters are where there’s a PR person’s actions at the centre of the storm. Without wishing to go over the coals of the recent Canberra restaurant fracas, here’s a succinct recap of the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Julia Gillard’s press adviser, Tony Hodges. Ta to The Australian.
Australian Liberal leader Tony Abbott has opened 2012’s PR Disaster contender list with an on-air gaffe comparing the sinking of the Costa Concordia to boat arrivals in Australia, News Limited reports: “Speaking on Triple M Adelaide’s morning show yesterday morning Mr Abbott was asked: “This is just a bit from left field, the captain from the Costa Concordia wants to know if you need any help with your boat policy?” Abbott replied: “Well that was one boat that did get stopped, wasn’t it,” and almost immediately was forced into damage limitation mode. He alluded to a lack of taste/judgement, but then attacked Labor pollies (quite rightly) who had tried to make editorial capital from his not so slick quip.
For the second consecutive year, Qantas has topped the list of the annual PR Disasters Awards conducted by PR watchdog and blogsite PRdisasters.com. 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! Continue reading
PR expert Gerry McCusker was interviewed by Radio Australia this am – exploring the Fiji Govt’s use of online PR and social media. McCusker told Radio Australia it makes perfect sense: “If an organisation posts regularly online through blogs and tweets and online press releases, and by feeding this material with the kinds of search terms that people are using online PR can influence what is said about any organisation, any corporate, any brand, any government, whether it is a democratic government or slightly less democratic one,” he said.
Via Ragan, news that a US Tea Party supporter sent an email depicting President Obama as a baby monkey. Clearly the pathetic racist slur says more about the immaturity and hatred that thrives in the sender – Marilyn Davenport, Orange County – than the intended object of her bile. As for her jenny-come-lately attempt at an apology; it has PR pressure – not authenticity – written all over it. Let’s hope this is a PR disaster for Davenport’s career.