The end of the year offers an opportunity to look back at PR mistakes of the past year. In a recent article in The Business Journals, Jason Mudd compiled a list of ten companies that were guilty of PR mistakes in 2015. Mudd breaks the list down into five categories:
- Ignoring social, racial and religious sentiment: This year, Urban Outfitters offered a tapestry for sale that featured a pattern similar to the uniforms the Nazis forced homosexuals to wear in concentration camps.
- Failure to recognize a crisis: Following several race-related incidents on campus, both the president and chancellor of the University of Missouri resigned after they failed to realize the seriousness of the issue.
- Lack of business ethics: Earlier this year, Volkswagen’s reputation was damaged following claims that their “clean diesel” cars were cleaner than they actually were.
- CEOs behaving badly: The CEO of Turning Pharmaceuticals came under fire for making the decision to exponentially raise the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill.
- Social media and technology fails: Following the release of a documentary about its poor treatment of killer whales, Sea World attempted to launch a hashtag, #AskSeaWorld, which was met with mostly negative comments after failing to answer many of the questions that were posed by the public.
One of the main takeaways from this list is what not to do when developing a PR or social media campaign. These examples also highlight the importance of acting proactively when your company or client is experiencing a crisis and why it is necessary to always portray truthful information.
Looking back over 2015, were there any other big PR mistakes that stood out to you?