This past year has seen some absolute doozys for PR, from Hockey telling poor people to get a better job, to the most recent calamity from Volkswagen, but whose reputation was besmirched the most?
PR Disasters’ analyst and author Gerry McCusker is in his tenth year of acting as the unofficial watchdog of the PR industry, tallying up Australia’s biggest blunders.
Using independent data analysis from a global media monitoring company, the Australian PR Disaster Awards highlight the worst examples of business, celebrity, government, media and sports PR “mis-steps”.
To qualify as a PR disaster, the incident must result in sustained, negative media coverage for the brand, business or person at the centre of the story.
For 2015, the top five stuff ups were:
- Volkswagen – the auto marque’s fake emissions scandal (12,341 pieces of media coverage)
- Joe Hockey – the former Libs treasurer’s “get a good job” jibe (7,262)
- Belle Gibson – fraudulent claims of a cancer-curing blogger (6,792)
- Bronwyn Bishop – Choppergate trip took gaffes to a new high (4,390)
- Australian Border Force – show of force turned to a PR farce (3,292)
Looking at the past decade, the monumental stuff ups were:
- Essendon Bombers – supplements scandal (89,685 pieces of media coverage)
- Gillard/Labor Party Carbon Tax – Julia’s short-lived legislation (46,439)
- Abbott’s wink and ‘shirtfront’ – the ex-PMs blokey machismo (29,983)
- Qantas’ – its grounding of fleet and ‘luxury’ #socialmediafail (18,868)
- Volkswagen emissions – the emissions cheating scandal (12,341)
“Social media has the ability to turn a misstep into a marathon media nightmare. Cheating and insensitivity – which both rupture trust – are the biggest catalyst of PR and reputation blunders,” McCusker said.