• When (PR) Disasters Attack

    As we enter into Q4 2013, many professional associations and publications will start to announce their “worst” lists for the year, such as the worst public relations disasters.

    “Thanks” to recent news and events (from the MTV’s Video Music Awards to the government shutdown), there will be no lack of politicians, corporations or other public figures from which to crown as the “best of the worst.” But, since it is still too early to make the call for 2013, it may be worth looking at some other recent PR missteps.

    The Pink Slime Slip Up

    The pink slime slip simply took the cake in the PR disaster category of 2012. (Full disclosure: I don’t eat beef.) One of the major networks revealed that the additive product, dubbed pink slime, was treated with ammonia. Then, a viral video painted a rather unsavory picture of the additive. Some manufacturers came out and quickly distanced themselves from the product, while at least one other defended its company through ads and a response website.

    According to Ragan’s PR Daily, that manufacturer closed three of its four plants, while another pink slime maker filed for bankruptcy as a result of the backlash.

    Smoking Saves…Really?

    Back in 2001, one of the major tobacco companies released a study (in the Czech Republic) stating that smokers’ deaths had “positive effects” financially for the Czech government. The findings apparently were centered on the costs the Czech government did NOT have to pay, including pensions and healthcare costs because the early death of smokers.

    While the article is a few year’s old, you can read all about that PR debacle and others in a Business Insider story on the 15 biggest PR disasters of the (last) decade. While the story focuses on mostly consumer brands, it shows the power of public relations in impacting reputations and revenue, and it disproves the adage that there is no such thing as bad PR.

    Are there any PR disaster or crises that stand out to you? If so, share with us and let us know what your key takeaways were from the incident.

    Jackie Parker is the Vice President at Arketi Group, an integrated marketing consultancy that helps business-to-business organizations generate revenue and accelerate growth through intelligent strategy, branding, marketing and public relations. To view all company blogs go toArketi Group blog site.

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