Australian PR Disasters

17 Feb

This is an interesting look at 2011 Australian PR blunders, the most controversial was Qantas and the ADFA scandal. I was studying the ADFA scandal as it was progressing, an interesting look at how it was fixed and the crisis communication managed.


Australia’s 2011 PR Disasters Awards announced

Posted on January 9, 2012 by 


For the second consecutive year, Qantas has topped the list of the annual PR Disasters Awards conducted by PR watchdog and blogsite And for the first time in the awards’ history, the airline had three embarrassing PR glitches feature in the year’s top ten most talked about PR nightmares. Here are Australia’s Top 10 PR Disasters for 2011 (biggest disaster first):
1. Qantas grounding – business decision that inconvenienced and angered a nation
2. Qantas luxury Tweet – poorly conceived Twitter promo which drew ire not idolising
3. Brendan Fevola – termination of troubled star’s contract with Brisbane Lions
4. Tony Abbott – mute, shaking-head TV interview freeze
5. Qantas ‘golliwogs’ – social media rugby promo, which catalysed a racial brouhaha
6. Ricky Nixon – PR fallout from unseemly association with the St Kilda teen
7. Larissa Behrendt – bitchy comments against Bess Price published on Twitter
8. Kyle Sandilands – personal vendetta against a journo forced a humiliating apology
9. Australian Defence Force – Cadet Skype-cam sex scandal
10. Gasp Retail – bad customer service flowed from in-store to email; a PR 101 fail!
While the unprecedented grounding of its fleet ensured that Qantas topped the list of 2011’s biggest PR blunders, “the flying kangaroo” also took out second spot with its ill-fated ‘luxury pyjamas’ promotion on Twitter. Its rugby related ‘racism’ gaffe – where Wallaby supporters went ‘blackface’ to win a promotional prize – also edged into the awards’ top five. Troubled footy star Brendan Fevola’s much talked about fall from AFL grace and Tony Abbott’s ‘stunned mullet’ TV interview with Seven News reporter Mark Riley also earned a top five placing.
The Awards – calculated by online monitoring agency CyberChatter – highlight the worst examples of business, celebrity, government, media and sports PR blunders. The results assess the most talked about PR disasters in both traditional and online media, including social media spaces. To qualify as a PR disaster, the incident must catalyse sustained, negative media coverage for the brand, business or person at the centre of the story.
Gerry McCusker, author of the ‘PR Disasters’ book and blog commented:
“The data suggests that microblog tool Twitter is most often used to vent anger at brands and personalities who get their PR wrong. And the most vocal Aussie critics appear to be those in the 25-34 age bracket, although over-50s were out in force against the Qantas grounding.
Louise Di Francesco of Cyber Chatter added:
“Using our online and social media tracking technology, we’ve crunched the amount of online conversations relating to PR gaffes and the tone of those conversations. This allows us to accurately gauge the impact of these PR disasters on the public perception of the brands and people Australians are most closely following – and judging.”


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