Monday, December 23, 2013

The Best (Or The Worst) PR Blunders of 2013

As this is the last full week in 2013, PRowl has decided to recap the year for our readers in PR style, as only we can. To kick things off, here are a few unfortunate incidences that could have been prevented with a little public relations insight.
  1. White people don't get AIDS, at least according to Justine Sacco, PR director at InterActiveCorp (IAC). On Friday, December 20th Sacco sent out a tweet before boarding an 11 hour flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa that read, "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" During her wifi-less flight, not only had she become a trending topic, but so had the tag #HasJustineLandedYet. Sacco's insensitive tweet angered people worldwide and she was unable to do any damage control. Once she did land, she deleted her Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts without offering an apology. Sacco has since been let go from IAC. 
  2. Do these yoga pants make me look fat? Don't ask Lululemon co-founder, Chip Wilson, this. After several complaints from customers about the brand's black yoga pants being too sheer, Wilson states, "They don't work for some women's bodies. It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it." Naturally, women everywhere were offended and outraged. While Wilson did later issue an apology, it hasn't seemed to help falling sales this year. 
  3. Funeral crasher. During former South African President Nelson Mandela's memorial service on Tuesday, December 10th, Thamsanqa Jantjie seemed to steal the spotlight. He attended the service posing a fake interpreter for the deaf. Standing just a few feet away from some of the greatest world leaders, including President Barack Obama, Jantjie continued making false motions and gestures for hours, signing neither in American or South African sign language (which covers all 11 of the country's official languages). This not only speaks to a lack of security, but a lack on the PR coordinator's part as well.
  4. Going bananas on game day. Home Depot also found itself in hot water this year after tweeting a picture of two African-American drummers and a white drummer in a monkey suit with the caption, "Which drummer is not like the others?" While the tweet was pulled immediately, it wasn't fast enough before the internet was able to get ahold of it. However, Home Depot did handle damage control quite well, apologizing and firing both the person and the outside agency responsible for the questionable tweet. While they did not disclose information about the employee or the agency, Home Depot's spokesman Stephen Holmes said, "We have zero tolerance for anything so stupid and offensive." Way to go, Depot.
  5. Ever walk into a room and realize everyone was just talking about you? About a month ago, JPMorgan attempted to utilize Twitter to relate to their customers. Twitter users were encouraged to tweet finance-related questions to their account using the tag #AskJPM that would be answered by JPMorgan Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee. However, a simple survey could have clued in the company that most people aren't fans of their work. Less than 24 hours before the chat was set to begin, Twitter users began using the hashtag to tweet sarcastic and anger-filled questions to the company. They decided to cancel the Q&A tweeting, "Bad idea. Back to the drawing board." Now that seems like a sound idea.
Don't let this list discourage you; 2013 wasn't all bad! Continue reading our "Best of 2013" series this week to discover all of the highlights of this phenomenal year!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

As far as number 1. Fortunately for her no AIDS (as far as we know at least) but she definitely got something much worse. Talk about bad karma.

Maggie A