Marijane Funess August 7, 2012 | 02:48:40

PR Blunders And Some Lessons Learned

With the year more than half over, we couldn’t help but cringe over some badly handled company communications. So please join us in reflecting on these “PR don’ts” and giving thanks that they weren’t committed by YOU or your clients!

Starbucks Ireland tweets about Britain
Five years ago no one would have thought a 140-character message could stir such outrage. In June the Seattle-based coffee purveyor asked its Irish clients via Twitter to “show us what makes you proud to be British.” The customer response? A refusal to visit Starbucks stores without an apology. Starbucks issued a statement asking forgiveness, but the brew-haha raises the question, what action is best? Delete the tweet? Offer freebies? Go wild with new Irish coffee drinks? You make the call!

Adidas Shackle Shoes
When I look at these shoes I cannot help but think, “who really thought this was a good idea?” Sometimes companies release products with damnable features in the hope of garnering valuable hype. In this case, however, there is nothing fashionable, feasible, or marketable about a sneaker with plastic chains. The Adidas Facebook page exploded with comments referencing “an attempt to make popular more than 200 years of human degradation.” The company decision was to remove the post from their page, which I think was the right move.

Chick-fil-A and marriage equality
Oh, the Chick-fil-A media disaster. It’s impossible not to mention. Of course, a CEO is entitled to his opinion and has the right to express it, however ill-advised it may be, but was it smart? Well, it seems the jury is still out on this one, since what looked like an unquestionable PR blunder may actually prove to be a sales wonder! With the conservative crowd urging folks to check out Chick-fil-A, the stores drew huge crowds and the ACLU sided with the CEO.

Aurora CelebBoutique Tweet
CelebBoutique, a UK-based online store, committed the blunder of the uninformed when the fashion company tweeted about “Aurora trending” following the horrific shooting in Colorado. The store deleted the tweet, of course, but what remains unknown is how quickly it was taken down. Call me crazy, but I do believe their “tweeter” did not know about the shooting when posting, and they did respond by apologizing and explaining that their PR is not U.S.-based. However, CelebBoutique’s main blunder was in not performing a wee bit more due diligence as to why “Aurora” was trending. Lesson learned.

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