With 2012 coming to an end, there is no end to the Public Relations disasters which ruined reputations.  Working extensively as a crisis PR agency, here’s our take on the worst PR gaffes of the year (in no particular order):

Lance Armstrong: Lance Armstrong was a legendary sports figure that many looked up to. Even with the growing burden of doping accusations, the renowned cyclist and cancer survivor made no comment on the accusations. In the wake of the scandal,

Armstrong stepped down as Chairman of his charity Livestrong  “to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career.” The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency detailed what it called “overwhelming” evidence of Armstrong’s involvement in what has been called “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program.” Armstrong has already been stripped of his Tour de France medals.

David Petraeus: The Petraeus extramarital affair became public knowledge after Jill Kelley reported to the FBI that she was being cyber-stalked with harassing emails. The FBI intercepted those emails and found that the messages were coming from Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’s biographer. The affair caused Petraeus to offer his resignation as CIA Director.

President Obama’s First Debate: Although Obama was enjoying a comfortable lead over Republican candidate Mitt Romney, it certainly didn’t show in his first debate. With Romney’s strong performance and quick wit, some say Obama was “falling asleep” and that his lack of participation could have cost him a second term. With the polls so tight, Obama managed to be more prepared for the second and third debate.  The first debate was definitely a debacle.

Pink Slime: What a debacle. “Pink Slime” known as the lean, textured beef that had been found have the additive “ammonia” added to most of the ground beef in the U.S. for over a decade. With consumer confidence dropping by the second, a number of food companies that distribute the beef assured the public that they would drop “pink slime” from its product line.  But who really wants to have ammonia added to their lean ground beef?

Apple: Apple fans got a shock when the new iPhone 5 was released and the Apple Maps function failed to work. CEO Tim Cook had to issue a public apology and conceded that Apple users should download competitors’ products from the Apps store. Embarrassing nonetheless, Cook suggested that Bing, MapQuest and Google all had good applications. The product manager for the maps feature was fired months later.

Always like to hear your thoughts and feedback – What will be the biggest PR disaster of 2013? Contact me on twitter @rtorossian5wpr

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.

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