Worst PR disasters 2009 – call for entries

Yep, after a lifetime of near-saintly posturing, Tiger W has decided that he wants to win the marketing industry’s most inglorious prize; this site’s annual PR Disaster award. But the man who patently put the wood in Woods faces some stiff competition from a whole host of PR peckerheads including:

Domino’s staff sandwich-making antics; Hey Hey It’s Saturday blackface act; Renault’s Grand Prix fixing fiasco; Aussie Liberals’ Ute-Gate gaffe; Southern Star Observation wheel buckling; Washington Post’s cash-for-influence dinners; UK PM Gordon Brown’s condolence letter; Kraft iSnack 2.0 (the PR disaster that never was); United Airlines Broke My Guitar; Habitat’s Iran Twitter tag; car hire firm NZCRS pursuing dead people’s family on car hire charges; Climate Gate leaked emails; UK MP’s ongoing expenses embarrassment.

What’s your favourite? What’ve I missed? And in case you’re miffed I haven’t hyperlinked all these sources, I will when I can get a break from some urgent client deadlines

PR disaster for journalism, as YesMen hijack Chamber of Commerce brand

(From HuffPost) Reputation hijackers, The Yes Men, have taken credit for a prank in which they posed as Chamber of Commerce officials pushing for comprehensive climate change legislation.  Pretending to be the business lobby, the YesMen hosted a fake news conference at the National Press Club (hoodwinked or what!!) announcing a “dramatic” shift in its position on climate change. After a fake press release and media event note was sent out, Reuters, Fox and CNBC were all, it seems, initially duped by the fake PR stunt.

Republicans and lobbyists – familiar bedfellows

The LA Times reports on a PR disaster where a Republican assemblyman is caught making sexual boasts about his dalliances with 2 women, not realising he was being videotaped and recorded. One of the lobbyists is thought to work for a major utility firm and, as Duvall discloses accidentally, wears little “eye-patch underwear”. Noice comment Mike, eh!!! And apparently lobbyists sleeping with politicians is not uncommon in Calif as the following quote suggests: “The use of sexual favors is just one more example of the tactics that energy companies and lobbyists have used to win favorable laws from lawmakers,” said Kathay Feng, president of California Common Cause. Well PRs in Oz; do you have any tales of strange bedfellows downunder (geddit, geddit??)

Sectarian SMS's and a brewing PR disaster


Police are investigating allegations that a Scottish Labour candidate was subjected to sectarian abuse by a text message sent by a PR adviser and lobbyist. The messages – repeating a line from the Famine song which was recently ruled by Scottish law lords to be racist because pillories people of Irish descent whose ancestors came to Britain to escape the potato famine which began in 1845 – were allegedly sent from a mobile telephone number belonging to a Scottish PR-cum-lobbyist. Continue reading

Alleged top Aussie blogger spams PR Disasters

I just got, well, spammed; a press release about a hairdresser-turned-software developer plopped in my email box with this simple intro…Hope this story might be a good fit for your blog. Regular PR Disaster readers might know I’m not big on covering hairdresser/software tales, unless their PRs are lazily spamming me. Cet slice de petit carne-dans-un-tincan came from a contractor working for an Aussie publicity outfit whose web proclaims they’re “…not just at the cutting-edge of public relations practices, but also insists they’re “…laser-focused on helping entrepreneurs build their companies through public relations and publicity…LISTEN UP…SPAMMING CITIZEN JOURNOS WILL GET YOU NOTHING BUT NEGATIVE COMMENTARY FOR YOUR CLIENTS (who I will refuse to name in this instance). You need to understand topics bloggers are passionately interested in, and approach them in ways that don’t waste their time. I phoned the PR spammer for an explanation; seems she simply got/bought a list of 50 top Aussie ‘business bloggers’ from an outfit called O-Desk (??), and she (obviously) sprayed the stuff out hoping for some pickup. She seemed not to sense this wasnt quite kosher. But feeling my ire she said sorry. Word to the wise, guys, your online PR “laser’ needs a cleaning cloth. And as an Aussie blog pioneer…surely your team should desist from sending citizen journos like me completely irrelevant media releases?  Online or off, that’s PR 101.

Rolex PR kudos creates PR disaster

In My Atmosphere blogger Age Conte kindly forwards the following retch-fest from a Rolex retailer (ta Tim B) the PR people at Rolex. Basically, they say that having a Rolex watch helped star Owen Wilson recover from his bout of suicidalism. I’m all for creative licence in PR guys, but their’s (Rolex’s) this retailer’s should be revoked for this chunderous PR boast. Read it and gag!


The PR disaster 08 shortlist takes shape

If your memory for reputation-bustin’ PR gaffes isn’t serving you very well, perhaps the names Sarah Palin (for being herself), Elliot Spitzer (for his dalliances), Sam Newman (for his MP-slating innuendo) and Wayne Carey (for his Police encounters in Melbourne and Miami) might jog your nomination memory? If that don’t work, here are some more corkers from last year:

Sachsgate: https://prdisasters.com/bbc-pr-disaster-as-pr-week-flames-inept-crisis-management

Julie Bishop’s book chapter:

Belinda Neal’s Iguanagate: https://prdisasters.com/belinda-neals-vindication-only-begs-more-unanswered-questions/

Collingwood stars’ DUI car crash: https://prdisasters.com/didak-shaw-and-pies-pr-gaffes-and-lies/

J&J sue Red Cross: https://prdisasters.com/red-crosses-and-red-faces-at-johnson-johnson/

Troy Buswell seat sniff: https://prdisasters.com/sniffer-dog-buswell-surely-unseated-by-pr-disaster/