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
Ronn is the CEO of 5WPR and author of best selling PR book, For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations, and a regular contributor to Fox News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Insights Wired, Everything-PR and more.