15 Biggest PR Disasters

With 2010 just around the corner the first decade of the millennium is coming to a close. In the PR field there have been countless product launches, special events and some quite effective reputation management. However, there have also been some unforgettable PR debacles in the past ten years. Fifteen of those made The Business Insider’s list of the decades biggest corporate PR disasters.

Kicking off the list is the Bridgestone tire recall of 2000. In 1998, Bridgestone tires began failing. The treads on thousands of the tires began splitting, causing horrific traffic accidents for their users. Bridgestone ignored the problem for a whopping two years and a government investigation ensued. When all was said and done Bridgestone’s credibility as a trustworthy tire company was dashed and the company was forced to recall 6.5 million tires on August 9, 2000. It was the second largest recall in U.S. history.

In 2006, HarperCollins gave the ‘OK’ to publish If I Did It: Confessions of a Killer by O.J. Simpson and scheduled a two part interview with Fox 29 about the book. The media circus surrounding the Nicole Simpson murder trial was unbelievable and public opinion for O.J. Simpson was definitely not positive. The publishing of Simpson’s new book outraged many and was seen as disrespectful to Nicole’s grieving family.

I’m sure that we all remember the Domino’s pizza scandal of 2009 when two employees filmed themselves doing disgusting things to a Domino’s sandwich before sending it out to a customer. The video was uploaded to YouTube and was seen by millions of people as the company took two long days to respond to the incident. The employees were fired and Domino’s issued a public apology via YouTube video, but the damage was already done to the company’s reputation.

These three PR disasters show a one fatal flaw: a lack of planning. Each of the corporations should have had a disaster response plan ready, awaiting the worst possible PR scenario. Usually, it seems that the public handles scandals much better if the company is upfront and honest about their mistake. Corporate PR practitioners must have a disaster plan that can be implemented immediately and must be ready to respond to anything in less than 24 hours, especially with the popularity of digital and social media that can spread messages to thousands in a matter of minutes.

Click here to read The Business Insiders full list of the decade’s 15 biggest PR disasters and see if you agree. Let us know your ideas about how these company’s could have overted these disasters.

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