PR Disaster of the Year: The website that derailed a popular President

http://bluntmax.com/child-development-research-paper-topics/ child development research paper topics As the year winds down, we turn to things that really matter. I’m talking, of course, about the 2013 Force for Good PR Disaster of the Year.

Once again, we have an abundance of worthy candidates, including:

  • Carnival Cruise‘s stunning string of misadventures on the high seas disastrously amplified by PR pratfalls–e.g., Carnival’s CEO sighted at a Miami Heat basketball game while being unavailable for comment about the overflowing toilets 4,000 of his customers were enduring aboard a crippled cruise ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Paula Deen — for her clumsy video apologies, Today Show no-show, and overall lack of self-awareness in the wake of criticism about her racist comments from years ago. I mean, even if you have fantasized about having black servers at a wedding to give it that classic Southern ambiance, don’t answer “Yes, of course” in a deposition when asked if you have ever used the N-word. 
  • The return of Pink Slime, last year’s “winner.” 
  • The whole Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, especially the way it “ended”–the team rallying behind thuggish anti-hero Richie Incognito and disparaging his victim for “quitting on the team.” We haven’t heard the last of this…

Obamacarewebsite downBut standing out in terms of staying power and sheer volume of coverage was the launch of  Healthcare.gov (aka, the Obamacare website). This one had everything:

  • The website itself clearly was not ready for prime time when it was launched. Warnings from developers were not heeded. A delay would have been embarrassing, but not as damaging as what actually happened…
  • The website crashed right at the onset, prompting the White House to try to make lemonade from the lemons by insisting that this just proved how popular Obamacare was proving to be.
  • Lots of finger-pointing.
  • The spectacle of the President losing his mojo. A press corps that had been supportive (substitute  ”fawning” here if you like) turned on him… His approval numbers tanked…Even Democrats in Congress disavowed their allegiance to the President’s signature achievement.
  • It took way too long to get the website up and running (aptly called a “slow-motion train wreck” here).
  • It provided endless fodder for the late-night comics. When Jon Stewart starts ridiculing a Democratic president, you know things are going badly.
  • Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius broke a cardinal rule from media training by repeating a damning word in a question posed to her during a Congressional grilling. Said she: “Hold me accountable for this debacle.” (But things were so bad at this point, her quote hardly raised an eyebrow.)
  • The President’s “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” promise turns out to be false for millions of Americans, prompting a series of clumsy explanations and one half-hearted apology. While technically not part of the website debacle, the President’s untruth became a firestorm of its own largely because the press corps pounced on it–the promise originated at a time when the White House counted on the media to give the President the benefit of every doubt. That’s a dangerous assumption, as any media trainer can tell you.

Here’s to the new year and whatever it will bring. One thing’s for sure:  even some who should know better will stumble at just the wrong time, turning an embarrassing moment into a full-blown disaster.

Silence worsened sordid Penn State scandal–2011 PR Disaster of the Year

The real tragedy of the scandal at Penn State is that so many of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged acts of predatory sexual abuse over the years could have been prevented if university officials had not tried to keep it quiet. Hoping to avoid an ugly incident, their silence led to arguably the worst scandal in American sports history … and made for an easy choice for the Force for Good’s 2011 PR Disaster of the Year.

 

Time and again, the lasting impact of a crisis is made worse by those first on the scene hoping to sweep it under the rug. How many times have you you heard, “The coverup was worse than the crime?”

Bold prediction: this won’t be the last time a scandal is made far worse by embarrassed officials trying to make it all go away. Don’t let it happen at your company. Work with senior leadership to develop a rigorous crisis management plan built around smart, proactive crisis communications to all stakeholders.

Click here for five years of truly memorable recipients of FFG’s PR Disaster of the Year.

- Jon Harmon

New candidates step forward … for PR Disaster of the Year

The last few weeks have brought us a rush of new, worthy candidates—for Force for Good’s annual PR Disaster of the Year award.

 

Comprehension Dissertation Thesis And Term Papers Xtremepapers http://www.umass.lambdaphiepsilon.com/letter-of-application-work-experience/ Herman Cain—no matter what you believe at this point, it is clear that the Cain campaign has been clueless in handling a crisis they should have seen coming. With 10 day’s notice before the publication by Politico October 31 of the first allegations, how could Cain be caught flat-footed and ill-prepared? The steady drip, drip, drip of new accusations (we’ve seen this movie before, twice: It’s Tiger Woods and Anthony Weiner, all over again) makes it clear this story isn’t going away and Cain’s various responses—angrily lashing out at reporters, trying desperately to change the subject, defiantly attacking one of his accusers as a “troubled woman,” are all wrong, wrong, wrong.

 

Penn State—the sad, sordid tale of sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by longtime assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky should have ended in 1996 when Sandusky was first caught showering with a boy; police were notified but no charges filed. Or in 2002 when a graduate assistant coach walked in on Sandusky in the shower with a boy, he told head coach Joe Paterno who reported the charges up to the Administration but didn’t notify police, confront Sandusky or otherwise follow through on his obligations to the community to stop a predator. Yesterday, university officials abruptly cancelled Paterno’s weekly press conference, only adding to the uproar. Today, the 84-year-old Paterno announced he will retire at the end of the year, surprising no one. The real tragedy is that so many at the university remained silent while Sandusky continued to molest at least eight boys.

 

follow url Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who in a quieter year might be running away with the award. With rioters in the streets of Athens a daily event protesting austerity measures that will end the gravy train for a coddled public in an IOU economy, Papandreou surprised his fellow leaders in the Eurozone by saying he would put Greek’s last-chance bailout up for referendum. Hmmmm, seems like all those riots would give one pause before putting further-but-necessary austerity moves up for public referendum. Then, when Germany, France and the rest of the Eurozone made it obvious that their generous deal would be rescinded, Papandreou did an about-face and cancelled the referendum–nothing like promising a vote to a riotous public and the reneging, throwing gasoline on the fire. Papandreou was forced to resign to be replaced by … no one yet. This being Greece, a new coalition government has yet to be formed amid more squabbling.

These newbies to PR disaster join entrenched candidates Wiener (who exposed himself as a liar), Lindsey Lohan (can’t seem to stay out of trouble), Dominiquec Strauss-Kahn and his accuser (he is at best a lech accused of much worse, but her story fell apart and he returned to France where he will apparently not be President), and the Boston Red Sox / Atlanta Braves (historic chokes by both teams–okay not so much a communications issue, but disasters nontheless).

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