Did you hear the one about the fast food lobbyist who was married to the Health Minister’s Chief of Staff??
In my 7+ years of blogging I’ve never asked for much from my readers; just a bit of attention and engagement for the cases and critiques I sometimes offer. However, I recently made a resolution to generally “pay it back” to those less fortunate.
So, in June I will ride my bike 3,600 miles across the United States starting in Atlantic City, NJ and finishing on the pacific coast in Astoria, OR! This ride will support The Fuller Center for Housing, a Christian non-profit that builds and renovates homes as a helping hand in partnership with those in need, not as a hand-out. I’m the first Australian to ever take part in this Continent-spanning charity marathon. My personal fundraising goal is to raise US$5000. Would you sponsor me as you are able? Could you contribute $10, $50, $100 or $1 per mile if you can? I’m personally giving $500 in addition to covering my own airfares there and back. Donate here please:
I’m speaking alongside Annabel Crabb, Todd Sampson, Brian Solis, Trevor Young, Mark McCrindle etc – you coming along?
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 hidden side of impression management in the Essendon supplements scandal now revealed by the Herald Sun and The Australian.
Subbed from their media release:
“Advocacy group The Parents’ Jury today named the Coles ‘One Direction’ campaign as winner of its Shame award for Pester Power. The Coles competition encouraged shoppers to try to win tickets to an exclusive One Direction concert through purchasing a range of mostly junk food products. The Fame and Shame Awards also delivered a smack in the face to KFC’s ‘Snack in the face’ app, awarding it the Digital Ninja award. The app featured a game where players win vouchers which can be redeemed for a range of KFC snacks or can be passed onto friends through social media. Milo was awarded this year’s Smoke and Mirrors award for its ‘Official Drink of Play’ TV commercial featuring popular TV personality Shelly Craft. Continue reading
Revelations that Australian intelligence sources may have been bugging SBY and wife’s personal phones, the indignant reactions from the ‘phone tapee’s’, the bungling “all governments gather information” interview by Mr Abbott with the ABC’s dogged Leigh Sales and, most recently, the inopportune twitter-sniping from a political research firm owner, marks this as a PR disaster of national and international import.
What kind of regional journalist would ‘heavily borrow’ or ‘be significantly inspired’ by editorials from some of Britain’s most prominent national newspapers? Only one whose main gig is as a solicitor. You might expect copyright, ethics, IP and similar to be part of such a professional’s lexicon, surely. Carly-Marie Fallon, tell us more…
Hat-tip Ken Garner, Buzzfeed and Legal Cheek.
Alerted by a vigilant PR disaster watcher (thanks JD) across the ditch, ongoing interest in a sleazy case by the media and citizens has resulted in greater PR problems for the Police and radio station, RadioLive.
The Roast Busters case centres around a group of young men who’ve shamelessly boasted online (via Twitter and Facebook) about taking advantage of drunk, underage girls who they intimate are ‘willing’ assaultees.
As interest in the case grew, the police came under fire for knowing of the incidents since 2011, yet being ineffective in taking interventive action. Whispers say one of the boys is the son of a police officer, too.
Now, as media explores the story further, advertisers are (temporarily, I’m certain) jumping ship from RadioLive after two of its presenters joked and quipped about the circumstances surrounding the alleged rapes. The story of the group has made international news, with media outlets in the US, UK and Australia covering it.
Emotional intelligence deficits again the source of another horrid PR disaster that, due to online coverage, will haunt all concerned for years to come.