BOMBERS DOPING SCANDAL IS PR DISASTER OF THE DECADE!

Essendon Bombers 'win at all costs', won it Australia's PR disaster of the decade.

Essendon Bombers ‘win at all costs’, won it Australia’s PR disaster of the decade.

As the PR industry’s unofficial watchdog – we can reveal Australia’s biggest PR disasters of 2015 – and of the decade too! In our 10th anniversary since the ‘PR Disasters’ book and blog were launched in 2005, we have used independent data analysis from a global media monitoring company to define Australia’s biggest PR blunders of the last ten years.

The Bombers doping scandal gained nearly double the negative media mentions (89,685)  than the runner up – a massive victory for any football team!

The Australian PR Disaster Awards highlight the worst examples of business, celebrity, government, media and sports PR “miss-steps”. They assess PR problems in both traditional and online spaces, including social media. 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. The winners are based upon the number of media mentions the issue gets (online and offline) and the amount of negative sentiment in that coverage. Australia’s Top 5 PR Disasters of the decade (biggest first) were:

  1. Essendon Bombers – supplements scandal (89,685 pieces of media coverage)
  2. Gillard/Labor Party Carbon Tax – Julia’s short-lived legislation (46,439)
  3. Abbott’s wink and ‘shirtfront’ – the ex-PMs blokey machismo (29,983)
  4. Qantas’ – its grounding of fleet and ‘luxury’ #socialmediafail (18,868)
  5. Volkswagen emissions – the emissions cheating scandal (12,341)

2015’s top five PR blunders were:

1               Volkswagen – the auto marque’s fake emissions scandal (12,341)                2               Joe Hockey – the former Libs treasurer’s “get a good job” jibe (7,262)       3               Belle Gibson – fraudulent claims of a cancer-curing blogger (6,792)           4               Bronwyn Bishop – ‘Chopper-gate’ trip took gaffes to a new high (4,390)  5               Australian Border Force – show of force turned to a PR farce (3,292)

Commenting on changes in the PR disaster phenomenon, PR Disasters analyst and author Gerry McCusker, commented: “Social media has the ability to turn a misstep into a marathon media nightmare. Cheating and insensitivity – which both rupture trust – are the biggest catalyst of PR and reputation blunders.”

Tomic arrest, Kyrgios tantrums – an issue of character

Tomic&Kyrgios

In sports – think AFL, cricket and NRL for example – we often see how the PR gaffes of individuals or small groups have the ability to tarnish the reputation of the code or sport they represent. To my PR eyes, Tennis Australia is experiencing it differently; despite being dragged into unseemly PR disasters via the childlike antics of Messrs Tomic and Kyrgios, the public is able to clearly see where the root of the wrongs lie. It’s said that you can’t control your reputation, only your character. Culpability for these repeated, tennis-related PR disasters lies squarely at the baby feet of a couple of flawed characters whose actions speak as loud as their often immature utterances. I hope they will soon listen to the experience, strength and wisdom that, surely, must be being offered to them.

The PR train wreck that is Nick Kyrgios (aged 20 and a bit)

PR Disasters are usually caused by something; bad choices, behaviour, inattentiveness or wanton disregard. This precise article from the UK Telegraph’s Oliver Brown is “ace” in the way it describes the defects that drive Nick K’s manifold PR disasters. “…indeed hundreds of those fans on No 2 Court who watched his petulant implosion with mounting incredulity, felt most put out by was Kyrgios’s spoilt-child syndrome.” Nicely served, Oliver.

GC Sun may set on speed merchants’ AFL careers?

Gold Coast Stuns. The AFL and its multi-million dollar babies – the Gold Coast Suns – are embroiled in brand damaging illicit drug use allegations. Was anyone else struck by the irony of KH’s admission that he bought ‘gear’ outside a pizza shop. Not implying it was one of the club sponsors (a pizza chain), but how long before the sun sets on deals with sponsors and partners including HostPlus, Fiat, Virgin and United Petroleum and others?

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…

Australia's 2013 PR Disasters Announced

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.

2012 PR Disaster Awards announced

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.”

Australia's 2011 PR Disasters Awards announced

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