When almost two years of planning goes into a joint food health initiative and the corresponding public information website gets ORDERED off air ON THE SAME DAY IT GOES LIVE one might expect evidence of stakeholder dissonance.
I caught up with a gripping analysis of the Fiona Nash, AFGC and Alastair Furnival furore courtesy of the Background Briefing team of Anna Whitfield and Ann Arnold at ABC – great case analysis. HT SMH for screengrab.
Naughty pee-arr company House PR apparently offered (UK) Telegraph journalist Tim Walker Brit Awards press accreditation in exchange for publishing promotional tweets with the Mastercard Twitter handle and its #PricelessSurprises hashtag. The email requested Walker publish tweets before, during and after the event, and guarantee Mastercard’s inclusion in any post event write-ups, both print and online, with hashtags and URLs included. #PricelessSurprises
In the spirit of PR fellowship and PR disaster recovery assistance, I can offer HousePR some coincidentally hot-off-the-press pointers here:
(H/t to Ken Garner and The Drum)
The Essendon footy club has grabbed the flag at the annual list of PR blunders and gaffes awarded here at PRdisasters.com. After analyzing media monitoring data on sustained and damaging mentions across press, radio, TV and internet sources, the Bombers “performance supplements” saga was easily the year’s most-talked about, and reviled, PR disaster. And in a year where the Cronulla Sharks rugby club plus the sport of swimming were also stained by the stench of scandal, the broader topic of ‘drugs in sport’ created much negative commentary and bad PR.
The Australian PR Disaster Awards – now in their 8th year – highlight the worst examples of business, celebrity, government, media and sports PR blunders. They assess PR problems in both traditional and online media, including social media spaces. 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. Here are Australia’s Top 10 PR Disasters of 2013 (biggest disaster first):
1. Essendon supplements scandal – under the direction of controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank, the Bombers were found to have been operating an experimental – possibly illegal – performance supplements programme.
2. Drugs in sport – A year long Australian Crime Commission investigation found widespread drug use in Australian professional sport, with criminal networks being actively involved. At publication, one former ASADA expert dubbed it the “blackest day in Australian sport”.
3. Indonesian relations – Australia’s ‘SBY’ presidential phone-tapping scandal escalated with Tony Abbott’s reticence to apologise and Indonesia reactively downgrading the relationship between the two countries and withdrawing co-operation on people smuggling operations.
4. Waterhouse/Singleton spat – Businessman John Singleton sacked trainer Gai Waterhouse following a clash on live television. After “Singo” claimed skullduggery over the fitness of his beloved horse ‘More Joyous’, a Racing NSW inquiry fined Singleton and saw trainer Gai Waterhouse charged on two counts relating to reporting and record-keeping.
5. Media regulation reform – Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was assailed by many sections of the media over his proposed News Media reforms. Many outlets railed at the mooted, binding, self-regulation scheme that also sought to remove a news organisation’s exemption from some provisions of the Privacy Act.
6. Mining tax repeal – The Abbott government started to repeal Labor’s controversial Minerals Resource Rent Tax from July 2014; by pitching how it would impact on families and small business, major – and conflicting – media coverage for this new policy was secured.
7. Craig Thomson – The saga of allegedly using Health Service Union credit cards to pay for porn and prostitutes rumbled on, revealing avaricious appetites for raunchy films, sexual services, ciggies and cross-country flights and expenses.
8. Collingwood Football Club (re Adam Goodes) –When a young Collingwood fan sledged Adam Goodes with an ape slur, the media meltdown was compounded when Collingwood President Eddie Maguire jokingly alluded to Goodes’ ability to publicise the in-town musical King Kong.
9. Royal Commission into child sexual abuse – As the 2012-established commission researched, interviewed, questioned and challenged institutional representatives from education, religion, sports and state interests, claims of abuser protection and failure to stop the abuse provided media flak for churches and their office bearers.
10. Politician expenses – Not long into office, Tony Abbott encountered his first scandal over his and other politicians’ misuse of entitlements. With four cabinet members – plus the PM – having to repay money for faulty expense claims, the furore also targeted Labor pollies similarly loose with their expense accuracy.
Reviewing the candidates and numbers for 2013’s Annual PR Disasters Awards is proving challenging; the feeling is that sport may very much dominate the field rather than previous years which saw government and corporate PR disasters abound. Just to whet your appetite, prospective candidates (in no particular order yet) for the Awards include:
Political expense abuse claims
Tom Waterhouse/Gai Waterhouse/John Singleton snafu
Essendon Bombers* performance drug scandal
MP Geoff Shaw court and stakeholder skirmishes
Collingwood boss Eddie Maguire’s King Kong gaffe
Myer’s Bernie Brookes NDIS pronouncements
VW car recall
Australian government phone spy scandal with SBY
Mark Textor tweet
Cronulla Sharks doping allegations
Young political candidate media gaffes
What stands out for you as the Aussie PR blunder of the last year?
The Australian Labor Party has secured top position in our annual list of PR Disasters. After research by CyberChatter, the ALP has secured three top five placings on the list of the most talked about PR nightmares of 2012, a year rife with political PR glitches. So, without any further ado, here you go (biggest disaster first):
1. Carbon tax– Arguably Julia Gillard’s most unpopular decision since her time as Prime Minister. This legislation caused a nation-wide uproar talked about in traditional media, online forums and Twitter.
2. Alan Jones– During a speech at the 2012 Liberal Club President’s Dinner, the Sydney broadcaster said that Ms Gillard’s father ”died of shame” because of the ”lies” she told. Although Mr Jones later apologised to the PM, a number of his breakfast radio program sponsors pulled their advertisements from 2GB after a major social media campaign.
3. 2Day FM– Presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian’s on-air antics preceded the suicide of British nurse Ms Saldanha, who took her own life after being tricked into forwarding a prank phone call from the pair posing as Prince Charles and The Queen.
4. AWU Slush Fund– Julia Gillard’s credibility was affected amid reports she assisted former boyfriend and union colleague Bruce Wilson in the theft and misuse of significant funds.
5. Tent Embassy Riots– One of the PM’s staff lost his job after admitting he informed protesters of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s whereabouts at a 2012 Australia Day function, amid claims that Abbott had called for the Aboriginal tent embassy to be torn down.
6. Peter Slipper– Mr Slipper was ultimately removed as house speaker amid claims from former staffer James Ashby of sexual harassment. Despite the dismissal by the Federal Court of the James Ashby case against Mr Slipper, he now faces charges on three counts involving alleged fraudulent conduct.
7. The Circle– Network Ten’s The Circle issued an apology after public and corporate backlash over comments made by presenter Yumi Stynes about a photo of Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith. Stynes’ stated “he’s going to dive down to the bottom of the pool to see if his brain is there.”
8. Craig Thomson– Mr Thomson vigorously denied allegations and reports of allegedly spending hundreds of thousands of HSU funds on prostitutes, restaurant meals, hotels, air travel for his wife and other personal items including cash advances.
9. Nick D’Arcy– A photo posted on Facebook of Kenrick Monk and Nick D’Arcy posing with automatic pistols and shot guns sparked outrage less than two months out from the 2012 London Olympic Games.
10. Red Cross– The Red Cross apologised after a blundering employee caused fury by posting a comment on Facebook that said “all gays engage in risky behaviour” and everyone with tattoos gets “infected by dirty needles.”
With the sad, sad news that 2DayFM’s ‘Crank Yanker’ style publicity stunt may have lead to the death of the reception nurse who took the hoax phone call, station owner Austereo now has a global PR disaster on its hands. Social media is reported to be ablaze with anger and revulsion at the prank, and the way the station is handling the fallout of the stunt; the company Facebook page has been swamped with critical posts and Twitter in the UK has trended heavily against the DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian. Meanwhile, a braggadocio video from Mel and Michael puffed with pride just after their hoodwinking call has now been deleted from the station website. In any publicity-seeking situation, organisations have to ask “what’s the worse thing that could happen?”. While impossible to predict the death of someone involved in a hoax call, the sensitivity and protectiveness that exists for the UK’s royal cohort might have suggested this was one fear and self-loathing promoting scenario that required some taste and restraint. RIP Jacintha Saldanha.
TV interview alert!! Not that global kiddies brand The Wiggles should be expect to be PR slicksters, but this bumbling, stumbling interview is so cringeworthy…not just because of the lack of PR preparation (who’d’a thunk Rich Wilkins could be such a probing Kerry O’Brien type??) but due to the lack of emotional intelligence or empathy shown by the band to the now-dumped Wiggle (“What about Sam…whaddya mean?”. Yet what kind of maturity should we expect from performers who spend all day singing songs and talking burble to infant audiences? Hot potato, hot potato indeed.
It’s been a bumper year for PR disasters, gaffes and mis-steps; we’ve reviewed the site and noted some of the years most memorable PR disasters (see below). But, we’d love to hear your views on what makes the biggest PR boo-boo of the year:
Tony Abbott’s ‘struck dumb’ shaking head interview
Ricky Nixon and the St Kilda teenager
Academic Larissa Behrendt’s offensive Twitter slur
Australian Defence Force – Skype sex scandal
Qantas Wallaby golliwog Twitter promo
News Ltd grilling of the Murdochs
Qantas and Alan Joyce grounding flights
Gasp retailer jeans email furore
Kyle Sandilands attack on Alison Stephenson
Qantas luxury pyjamas Tweet
Hat tip to Ragan’s PR Daily; a couple of mud-slinging, ex-journos who have fence-jumped into PR for Burson Marsteller find themselves the uncomfortable subjects of an embarrassing media story in USA. It appears they’ve been trying to dish the dirt against Google, while working for a client with an anti-Google agenda. Offers to ghost write critiques, secure coverage in Washington Post; you know; the standard media flak subterfuge. More ex-media types giving PR a bad name but hey, BM employed them for their ability to cultivate influence!!