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

Australia's 2014 PR Disasters – Finalists

As we assess the data for 2014’s Australian PR Disasters Awards, two heavyweight teams are emerging as the main column centimetre negativity contenders; a) Tony Abbott’s coalition government and b) the NRL’s most wayward rugby stars. While political players such as George Brandis and Scott Morrison did their best to stain and murder their personal and party reputations by seeking to punish whistleblowers and asylum seekers respectively, several rugger buggers created a trickle of bad press over their oral (Todd Carney) and public (Greg Bird) urination episodes that, in turn, created a stream/torrent of social and MSM media criticism. Some surprise contenders such as Zoos SA’s attempt to marginalise a local ice cream supplier in favour of a palm-oil favouring globalcorp raised hackles in Adelaide, while coffee and coffee magnate Phillip De Bella’s expletive-infused Facebook rants had Brizzie caffeine lovers in a froth. And while Rupert Murdoch made a late charge with his emotionally-vapid, corporation-aggrandising Tweet over the #sydneysiege, it’s increasingly looking like PM Abbott will snatch the Award with his globe-spanning “shirtfront” proclamation – we will announce the winners very soon.

PR Disasters Awards contenders

Seems like a list of some the usual suspects – celebs, footballers, politicians – lining up to take the 2014 PR disasters awards this year past. Some of the contenders include: NRL’s Paul Gallen (c-tweet), PM Tony Abbott (wink wink), James ‘Punchy’ Packer, Malaysia Airlines, and even a late overseas entry from a Mr William Cosby

Your nominations before we start crunching the data, please…

House PR's 'Tweets for Tickets' BRIT Awards PR Disaster

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:
TimWalkerTweet (H/t to Ken Garner and The Drum)

PR Disasters 2013 – nominations and data flowing in

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?

Fiji government hires US PR guns to polish its global image

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.

Aussie Ad Agency creates social media PR disaster

Here’s a guest post by Peter Hawkins of Tribe Count on the George Patts/Defence Force social media bungle; I saw Peter’s comments on a recent Mumbrella story, and thought he made good sense while many Ad types overlooked the PR implications and impressions, preferring to brush the issue aside. Peter writes:

“GPY&R recently found themselves in the middle of a PR meltdown when a News Ltd paper investigated the online behaviour of members of its social media team.  The agency had been charged with reviewing the social media policy of the Australian Defence Force ( ADF)  after a recruit secretly filmed himself having sex with a fellow trainee and airing it to colleagues via Skype. The News Ltd article and the prime time television news bulletins that followed highlighted comments the social media team had made on Twitter and on their own blogs. The agency’s Facebook page also features images from a drunken staff party and provides links to the Facebook and Twitter accounts of staff, including the social media manager. The episode raises several issues.  Firstly, the need for every  organization to put in place staff policy on social media activity  that protects the company’s image and reputation. Continue reading

Aussie PR hires actresses to fake a news story

Aussie PR Jothy Hughes has created a PR disaster that should sound the death knell for his PR career. Dumb-as-you-could-imagine and deeply-duplicitous, Jothy briefed a model agency to find actresses who’d pretend to be profiteering widows selling their marital gold at jewellery parties (for his client Gold Parties Australia). Despite hollow claims of “I made a mistake…”, Hughes is a former PRIA member, so well knows PR right from wrong.

Ta 2 Mumbrella as source.

Hill & Knowlton Aussie GM slates client biz via Twitter

A marketer who jumped into a senior PR role 10 months ago seems to have displayed what might be described as a “lack of stakeholder awareness”. Mumbrella reports that H&K’s Fergus Kibble questioned the validity of a client-related business activity; not just once, but several times over a few weeks. Being skilled repu mgmt experts, H&K seems to have hunkered down; Fergus has blocked off his Twitter account, the CEO is not available and when chased by a Mumbrella sleuth, Dr Mumbo was told the entire PR team (for the related account) was out. Blog commentary seems divided whether Fergy did anything wrong.

Mumbo reports: “Ironically, last September Kibble gave a presentation on the best ways for brands to use Twitter in which he told delegates”: “In this space in particular we tend to go towards the negative that something terrible’s going to happen, but also really good things can happen as well.”