In this guest post, Media-Wize’s Anthony Caruana and Kathryn Goater take a look at 2023’s biggest PR stuff-ups and, more importantly, the lessons to be had…
Every year, companies, brands and people give us a masterclass in how to not engage with customers, the media or, indeed, the rest of the human race. And 2023 is no exception. From Elon Musk to start up founders, there are stories about how to ensure you annoy the largest number of people possible while trashing your reputation.
Authors Kathryn Goater & Anthony Caruana
How do you make a $19B company? You start with a $44B company and then let Elon Musk buy it. Musk’s off-again/on-again purchase has resulted in his $44B investment tanking to less than half its value with no signs of improvement on the horizon. But one of his most interesting moves was creating an automatic responder to email sent to X/Twitter’s media inbox at firstname.lastname@example.org. Email and you received a simple, one-character response: a poop emoji. Thankfully, an adult seems to have fixed that now and you get a “Busy now, please check back later” response.
Treating the media with disdain is a sure-fire way to ensure any coverage that comes is less likely to favourable. While Musk continues to enjoy great success in some of his endeavours, his personal brand is being diminished through his management of X/Twitter and the way he handles media relations.
GiveTree’s founder, Sam Joel, cranked the Yuck-O-Meter up to 11 with comments he made to public relations manager, Hannah Moreno. With comments like “Get off your period. Get good. Earn your salary with skill not pr lol. Pathetic.” As well body-shaming and other crude social media posts, Joel has shown himself the door and resigned – presumably before he was booted by investors.
In a year when interest rates have steepled and inflation has hit everyone’s expenses, millionaire property developer Tim Gurner told us the problem was that too many of us like avocado and are overpaid and underperforming. Gurner suggested job losses that pushed the unemployment rate to 40 per cent would help make people a little more appreciative of the shrinking value of their wages. Of course, that’s easy to say when your property empire was kicked off with a generous infusion of funds to make his first investment.
In another case of where people should be careful with public statements, is the headmaster of an exclusive Sydney boys’ school, John Collier. He said the man accused of brutally murdering Lilie James, the water polo coach of St Andrew’s Cathedral College where Collier previously worked was someone who “committed a monstrous act which was in complete contradiction to what everyone who knew him observed in the rest of this short life.” The alleged murderer died by suicide two days after Ms James’ death.
In each of these cases, the person making the comments showed no emotional intelligence or empathy nor any understanding of how their comments would be perceived. When making public statements it’s wise to avoid using significant public events to further your own agenda and to consider community sentiment and the wider social barometer. PR experts understand that news hacking can be a valid tactic but when it’s used in such an ill-advised manner it can lead to swift backlash.
Perhaps the most significant public event this year was the referendum. Many brands aligned themselves with one side or the other of the public discourse. There can be a significant downside for brands that align with popular causes and enter the political fray. While, in some cases, they might be aligned with majority support, there is a risk that they will alienate many and put their leaders into positions where they must justify their stance.
This was something Budweiser discovered in the United States when the company engaged in an advertising campaign that angered conservatives. The resulting backlash came in the form of a product boycott by many consumers and a massive hit on the company’s share price.
Leaders and brands need to think very carefully about the statements they make. Treating the media without respect and making comments that are devoid of empathy are a recipe for reputational disaster that will haunt them for many years to come beyond 2023.
Please login with linkedin to commentMedia-Wize's
Marc Collister (pictured) of P2 Content Creators spills the beans on his 2024 predictions drawing from two decades of experience in the advertising, film and television industry. I’m certain it will come as no surprise that in 2024, we can expect our industry to move at breakneck speed again. With even more rapid shifts in […]
Reddit’s annual Recap report has revealed the issues and moments that captured Australia’s collective mind over 2023 with, naturally, the Matildas featuring high on the list. The inaugural Australia-hosted Women’s World Cup saw Aussies glued to the footy (or, indeed soccer) with one enterprising user capturing the moment that Cortnee Vine scored the winner against […]
Zeno Australia has announced expanded creative design capabilities and the appointment of Jim Michell (lead image) to its senior leadership team. The new moves support strong growth in the region. Zeno Australia’s clients, including Abano Healthcare, Motorola and Yorkshire Tea, can now tap into a suite of creative design services to augment the agency’s work […]
Spikes Asia, APAC’s most prestigious and sought-after Award for creativity and marketing effectiveness, has revealed its 2024 Jury line-up today. The 93 industry experts from across 18 markets represent APAC’s leading talent from a diverse range of disciplines. 2024 sees the highest representation from brands, including Budweiser, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and, for the first […]
Assembled Media, is drawing upon the creative power of TikTok Creator Marketplace to help generate unique, impactful content for iconic stationery brand, BIC. The social activation campaign titled ‘A Pen for Every Side of You’ promotes the flexibility of BIC’s 4 Colours pen and is active nationwide on the BIC Stationery TikTok account. The campaign […]
Pinterest reckons jellyfish & moody cowboys will be big in 2024. Refused to be drawn on the return of shoulder pads.
IAB Australia has launched ‘Evolution in Market Mix Modelling’, the fourth module in its Marketing Measurement Innovation Series, which has been developed by IAB Australia’s Ad Effectiveness Council. The module explores what is driving the increased use of MMM and how the technique is evolving with advances in computing power and machine learning to provide […]
Scope3, the collaborative sustainability platform leading the decarbonisation of media and advertising, announced the addition of digital out-of-home (DOOH) to its emissions measurement. With DOOH ad spending predicted to grow from $17B in 2023 to nearly $24B by 2028, measuring this channel brings us one step closer to understanding the total impact of digital advertising […]
NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific, is now open for online registrations for the main conference. Jointly organized by the National Retail Federation and Comexposium, Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific will take place from 11 – 13 June, 2024 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore and is expected to draw thousands […]
Following a period of significant client growth, leading auto marketing agency, DBC2 has appointed Jason Fisher (lead image) to the newly created role of CEO. The appointment is part of DBC2’s long term growth strategy ahead of the agency announcing a brand refresh and expanded proposition in early-2024. As a new shareholder of the business, […]
Don’t treat regional media as a charity, but a real growth opportunity: That’s the message from Boomtown’s final masterclass of 2023, attended by almost 100 media industry representatives from across the nation. The masterclass was part of a series of educational sessions, delivered by Boomtown, the media collective championing advertising in regional Australia. The sessions […]