Businesses both large and small depend greatly on marketing and brand image. When things go awry they rely on a PR person or firm to help bring the situation under control. Of course, it doesn’t always work. Here are some of the biggest PR blunders of 2013.
The largest, and probably most impactful, PR blunder of 2013 was the ObamaCare roll-out. To say it was a disaster is putting it mildly. The website was set to launch on October 1 and many anticipated enrollments to start flowing in; however, that is not what happened. The website was unable to handle the high traffic volume among numerous other problems, while the situation could have been avoided all together. Running checks, verifying that systems are functioning properly, and when necessary delaying until the product is ready is vital to any new product roll-out.
Amy’s Baking Company
One of the hardest situations to deal with as a business owner is customer complaints. Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro learned this lesson the hard way. Upon receiving negative reviews they didn’t take the high road or pass the situation on to their PR person. Instead they took to Facebook lashing out at everyone in a series of harsh and negative posts. They later removed the posts and claimed the site had been hacked; however more negative posts appeared later. Developing a plan ahead of time to deal with these types of situations can help businesses respond in a cool and business smart manner.
Businesses aren’t the only ones who struggle with PR blunders. Politicians are notorious for their PR scandals gone awry. The most recent is Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. The scandal began with accusations of Ford using illegal drugs; which he denied. After being caught smoking crack cocaine he admitted his guilt but refused to step down as Mayor and announced plans to run again. Although he was ultimately stripped off all mayoral authority, his attitude throughout the situation was arrogant and lacking humility. Trying to hide problems rarely works, but being honest and upfront from the beginning allows them to control the story instead of allowing the story to control them.