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Impact Of Disastrous PR Incidents

By Proforma Durkee on October 18, 2017

One of the trickiest challenges you will ever face when launching and growing your business is getting your public relations right.

In its most generic form, public relations involves activities that promote a positive image and foster goodwill in order to increase sales while conveying the right message. Reputation is everything for a brand and PR campaigns play important role in improving business value.

After the relatively high number of PR disasters in 2016, the business world breathed a sigh of relief to see 2017 swiftly approaching; it couldn’t possibly get worse. Surely, most companies should’ve learnt from 2016’s failures? United Airlines then went and proved this theory completely wrong.

Let's take a look at some of the most popular brand names that didn't do so well in mitigating PR disasters in the last couple of years:

United Airlines

As stated above, United Airlines failed to properly manage the fallout over the viral video of a man being forcibly removed from one of their overbooked planes. The CEO of the airline, Oscar Munoz, clearly didn’t speak to his marketing consultant or receive PR advice before issuing an apology that lacked empathy and resulted in a massive stock price fall for the company.

His apology skirted around the actual issue, reading "This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers." The biggest mistakes he made were lacking of empathy, using unsympathetic language, and ultimately blaming the passenger for the incident.

The BP oil spill

Oil giant BP had previously spent years trying to get their brand to seem more environmentally conscious. Today’s green and yellow, nature-inspired logo is the result of their 2000 campaign ‘Beyond Petroleum’,which helped to improve their brand image. In 2010, however, disaster struck. Not just in the form of the biggest oil spill in history, but a hugely deficient PR campaign that failed to mop up the public’s criticism in quite the same way that their crews failed to deal with the three million barrels of crude oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. Chief executive Tony Hayward slipped on a proverbial PR banana peel by saying in his statement: “I want my life back.” The company has since lost favor with the public, gone to trial for negligence, and has been forced to pay billions of dollars in damages.

Krispy Kreme Donuts

Krispy Kreme is one of the most popular donut brands worldwide, so you’d think they would do quality checks before approving marketing campaigns in other parts of the world. They clearly failed to ask their UK partners to swing their ad campaign past them when they released advertising for an event innocently named ‘Krispy Kreme Klub’, or ‘KKK’ by the UK store. However, despite the disastrous campaign itself, Krispy Kreme’s PR team must be applauded for immediately removing the promotion and apologizing for the ‘unintentional oversight’ from their UK partners.No matter how well you prepare, sometimes things just spiral out of your control. It is not always possible to prevent a crisis, but knowing how to deal with the fallout could improve your brand value. When it comes to PR campaigns, learning from your mistakes can be costly; therefore, learning from other people’s mistakes is vital. Take a look at our online company store infographic Marketing Horror Stories to learn from the situations that no marketer ever wants to experience.


Topics: Marketing Tips, Branded Apparel

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