We’re only half way through 2017 and already we’re being spoilt for candidates for the PR Gaffe of the Year Award.
In the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May is a clear favourite. Her entire election campaign was one entire PR disaster from start to finish. It’s hard to decide what caused the most damage: her refusal to debate live on TV with the other party leaders, the ill-conceived Strong & Steady (weak and wobbly anyone?) campaign slogan or the ill-conceived and confused so-called Dementia Tax! One thing is for certain, she won’t be fronting another general election for the Tories.
On the other side of the pond, USA President Donald Trump is streets ahead of his nearest rivals.
Every press conference, every public appearance, every tweet is fertile ground for gaffe spotters across the globe.
Healthcare, travel bans, building walls between countries, Russian influence over elections, sacking the boss of the FBI, losing his National Security Advisor after only 24 days…
Although Don is in a class of his own, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz is a close second when he unapologetically condoned a passenger being dragged off an overbooked plane and saw his parent company’s stock price tumble from the sky.
Maybe with 24-hour news media and viral social media frenzies, PR gaffes don’t stay in the mind as much as they did in the good old bad days but the daddy of them remains jeweller Gerald Ratner.
Back in 1991, he was talking to the Institute of Directors and called one of his products (a sherry decanter with glasses and a tray retailing at £4.95) ‘total crap’ and wiped an immediate £500m off the value of his business.
What are your favourite PR gaffes this year or at any time during your career?
I am researching a white paper on PR own goals and how to prevent them. I want to hear about PR gaffes beyond the obvious ones I’ve highlighted above.
They and you can remain anonymous but it would be great to include real life examples.