The Best and Worst PR Moves of 2011 : Part II [#WorstPRMoves]
We've already given you the #BestPRMoves of 2011. And, as is always the case, our list of the #WorstPRMoves is always longer and, frankly, a lot more fun to compile. Let's see if our list matches your memories of the year's communications faux pas.
Best in Class Individual #WorstPRMoves of 2011
This gets a split vote this year. It was a closely fought race between sitcom star cum rabble rouser cum new sitcom star Charlie Sheen, and the "what was he thinking about running?" candidate for the Republication nomination Herman Cain. Interestingly one of our team members, Andi Narvaez, put Sheen into the grey area this year, as she felt he effectively branded the term "winning" during what she described as his "social media bender." And he did land himself a TV special and a new sitcom. But when you think of Sheen, the term "crazy" still comes to mind more than the term "winning." Am I wrong? And Herman Cain. What can you say about someone who runs in an intensely covered race for a nomination and then runs into such a humiliating personal crisis from his past that he has to watch his chances dry up and then withdraw completely from the race -- and from sight? I don't think of "winning," do you? Bill McLaughlin commented that Cain should have learned from John Edwards. Ah, well, hindsight is always 20/20, even on the big stage of national politics.
The #WorstPRMoves Team Award for 2011
Hands-down this one goes to the entire Red Sox organization, including the team (with a very few player exceptions) and its entire management group. From allowing a ridiculous collapse in September, to spreading rumors about the manager before firing him, to allowing their current GM to go to his new post in Chicago without a replacement GM in Boston, to making the search for the new manager a three-ring-circus and undercutting the new GM in the process. The PR mess this Team has created in 2011 needs serious attention and damage control before Spring Training.
The "Oops! Bad Moments Awards" for #WorstPRMoves of 2011
Texas governor Rick Perry forgetting the names of the cabinet departments he would cut during a Republican primary debate. He managed to name Education and Commerce and then had what was referred to as "the brain freeze heard 'round the world" until fellow candidate Mitt Romney helped him remember EPA. Yeah, that's the ticket, EPA!
Perry and Romney also squared off on a well publicized Romney gaffe he'd like to take back. When Perry said Romney changed his tune about how his own Massachusetts health care reform could be applied nationwide from one edition of his book to the next, Romney bet him $10,000 he was wrong. The sizeable bet itself was pounced on immediately by anti-Romney camps as an example of him being "rich and out of touch." Politifact.com said Perry was smart to not take the bet, although their long analysis (have Advil available) ultimately determined that Perry's claim was "mostly false."
Stanley Cup Champions Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs started the Duck Tour victory parade by telling the crowd of ecstatic fans that former player/GM Cam Neely "is the heart and soul of what a Bruin means. You couldn't have a better leader. On top of it, he brought us a Stanley Cup, something he couldn't do while he was skating." He'd like a redo on that one, I'm sure.
The Social Media #WorstPRMoves of 2011
Celebrity Ashton Kutcher's misguided Penn State tweets, where he complained to his huge follower base about Joe Paterno being fired before he truly understood the legitimate and awful reasons for the firing, were cited by Bill McLaughlin. Kutcher apologized for tweeting too fast on this one and actually decided to get some professional help to oversee his tweets, a move that was criticized by many.
Fashion design house Kenneth Cole's Twitter offense was not just a failure to Google before tweeting, like Kutcher's, but an attempt to capitalize on a hot subject to push product, a serious no-no for high integrity communicators. The tweet in question reading “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC”
The #WorstPRMoves Bad Business Awards
There were many nominees, but we had to settle on the following, who sunk to the bottom this year:
Netflix, whose CEO sent letters that confused and angered subscribers and followed this with a changing business plan that fanned the flames of the confusion and anger.
Carol Bartz's "I've been fired" email to all employees from her iPad earned one of these awards for Yahoo. That's not the way you let a chief executive go, people.
Bill McLaughlin thought Bank of America should be added to the list for its communication around higher debit card use fees and then later recanting of the charges after consumer outrage.
#WorstPRMoves Couple of the Year Award
Katie Tibbetts said her favorite love/hate PR stunt of the year has to be reality TV's Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries for their over-the-top public wedding and now breakup and battles. It's making Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher look like models of stability and decorum, isn't it?
Did we include your favorites of the year? Do you have any Democratic gaffes you want to add to the list to balance it out politically?
Here's looking forward to a year of mostly great communications, but enough bad moments to populate an entertaining list next December.