Many people will assume that it is only the new PR people who make significant mistakes in public relations. Perhaps they make their fair share, however, sometimes the experienced "professionals" mess up royally and end up paying dearly for it. Here are some examples from Fineman Associates top ten from various years:
In 1996, Structural Dynamics Research Corporation fired a guy on Take Our Daughters To Work Day while his 8-year old daughter was with him in the building!
Southwest Airlines, based in Dallas, Texas, announced during the 2002 year that they would begin charging overweight passengers for two seats instead of one. Big people cried foul and so did many others including many newspaper columnists.
In the midst of 1998's homerun race, it was made known from our friendly neighborhood taxman that the person who caught the record-breaking home run ball would be subject to a six figure gift tax, even if they returned the ball! Mike McCurry, then White House spokesman, relayed his opinion at a press conference when he said that was "...about the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life." The IRS quickly withdrew, but not before they showed their image of being stone cold and unforgiving.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers once tried to force the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to pay royalties for singing songs around the campfire.
Do you see this disturbing trend? Not a single one of these organizations intended to ruin their image. They simply failed to think their decisions through.
What are you going to do when a crisis rears its ugly head? Are you prepared to head off the media in a PR nightmare? It takes a lot to fix a serious media goof up. Just ask any of these organizations. I'm sure it wasn't an overnight fix.
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