A public apology can make all the difference to a brand's bruised reputation. Here are some tips to make sure your apology comes off as sincere:Read More
Ignite X specializes in helping technology startups grow their market visibility and brand. We bring expertise, connections and tenacity to helping brands break through the noise. Here are some of the things we've learned along the way.
Filtering by Category: Bad Public Relations
5 PR Cherry Bombs of Last Year: What Went Wrong & What it Teaches Startup Entrepreneurs, Corporate Executives and PR Reps
Some of the biggest tech stories this year spawned from poor public relations. Let’s take a look back at some of this year’s biggest players in the tech community – and the PR Cherry Bombs they dropped.Read More
The last few months have been rough for Netflix. So why is everyone so upset?Read More
Is all press good press?Read More
Steve Reubel recently questioned whether Twitter might replace the traditional email pitching practices of PR. We respectfully don't think so and hope not for the reasons outlined in this post.Read More
Yesterday's some of the social media biggest barometers were off the charts. Why? Facebook essentially chose to pull the rug out from under its users with a highly questionable Terms of Service (TOS) change. Almost 6000 people have dugg Facebook's move on Digg and on Twitter yesterday both TOS and Facebook were top 5 trend topics all day and into the night. I think it was a bad PR move that could have been handled differently. Was there only one option for Facebook to make here? I understand, as I think all users of social networks and other social media sites, that increasingly the web is opening up so sites can share data more easily with each other. When a user chooses to share their data publicly, it no longer distinctly belongs to them. However, the mistake that Facebook made was that they originally told their users that they were free to delete their account and with that account deletion, their data went with them. Then without any warning or grace period, Facebook pulls an about face (pun intended) and reneges on its own TOS with users, basically telling all 100+ million of them, guess what? We changed our mind and your data, it isn't yours any longer, it's ours and we can do whatever we want with it, whenever we want. Period. Instead of following their lawyers' advice, perhaps Facebook ought to have followed their PR's advice and taken a different approach instead. I'm surmising here that this is how things unfolded but too often companies follow the legal advice (say no comment) instead of taking better control of the situation and having less fallout. Right now, Facebook has created a tremendous amount of bad will and that is unfortunate. It is a hard lesson that others may want to remember and avoid.
By now many have heard about Christian Bale and his very unprofessional melt down captured and shared among millions on YouTube, which spread like wildfire into a top 5 topic on Twitter. The following Twitter meltdown unfolded today. Thankfully, the exchange was not at all as brutal as Christian Bale's outburst but, nevertheless this could have been avoided. To set the stage, the Twitter melt down involves a male and female, one a reporter and the other a Marketing/PR representative.
The following exchange captures the f-bombs and tweets going back and forth between the two parties. April, the PR rep, wasn't naming the reporter directly when she posted a tweet, venting her frustration, just as many of us do on Twitter (yours truly included). The reporter clearly had a bad day, noticed the PR rep’s tweet and followed up in a highly abusive way with her. After the Twitter throw-down, it seemed like the reporter wanted to forget about the whole exchange and consequently tried to erase his tweets. Unfortunately, the public journo/PR fight got retweeted and suddenly it was all over. Lesson to be learned here. Before you go dropping any F-bombs via a tweet, digg post, IM, blog comment, facebook post, etc., do remember you can't erase what is out there on the ether. A public record exists and there is no turning back.
Cision, an online database provider of media contacts aimed at PR professionals, is planning to add journalists’ Twitter handles. Many members of media have joined the ranks of bloggers who are actively leveraging Twitter for its ability to amplify their reach, so the move by this contacts vendor isn’t all that surprising. In fact, analyst firms, with the exception of Jeremiah Owyang and Forrester, are just starting to awake to this new powerful and growing channel. At Ignite PR, we use Twitter to communicate internally and externally with peers, follow breaking news, discover interesting data, spot emerging trends and meet or follow interesting people. Twitter’s most important value is its inherent nature around organic participation and the meaning and connection behind one’s network. On Twitter, one can engage with other interesting individuals who have similar interests, share great content, and are just interesting people in general. Twitter along with other social media channels, such as Facebook, Digg, YouTube, FriendFeed, etc., provide a simple and interactive way for people to engage in conversations with a wide array of individuals and expand or build a new network of interesting contacts.
Cision’s move raises a red flag however. When other database vendors start selling off Twitter names/handles, they stand to benefit at the expense of others. So far, PR folks actively using Twitter early on seem to be using it in a way that is not causing friction and we wholeheartedly applaud their practice-to-date. Yet there is still cause for concern when PR folks are using Facebook to actively pitch reporters and bloggers. One can easily see novice PR people blasting press release links or pitches aimed at Twitter users, namely press and bloggers, because they aren’t investing the time in understanding the do’s and don’ts of using Twitter. Thankfully Twitter’s management does a good job of shutting down spammers, but if database vendors are going to be selling lists of Twitter users to willing buyers such as PR agencies, then they both need to be responsible for understanding and underscoring acceptable practices for using this growing new channel. It’s critical that PR people embark on a real effort of self-policing how they use new social media channels to reach members of media or the blogsphere. Just as social media tools and channels are ushering in a new way to reach and communicate with one another, PR should seize the opportunity and turn a new page in how they use this new channel in an acceptable way.
I thought about American Airline's recent PR blunder the other day. The airline company took a pre-emptive strike and boldly announced they will now be charging customers a $15 surcharge for transporting each piece of luggage for their trip. Well that piece of news made the headlines on tv, radio, print and online, and needless to say, it was not well received. Travelers are already being hit with airport fees, additional security fees and rising ticket prices, the $15 per bag charge is hardly trivial, especially if you're taking your family on vacation. Yet the reality is that prices everywhere are rising due to runaway gas prices. It's typical for manufacturers and suppliers to pass the costs on to consumers; and lately, rising costs across the board are the norm these days. Clearly, the amount of fuel airlines require to operate their planes is skyrocketing and consumers are well aware of this fact. As consumers, we would have expected to see and pay for higher ticket prices. Are other airlines likely to follow American's move? I doubt it. What they will do and what American should have done is build the additional fee into the price of the ticket. That move would have been far more palatable with the public. I'm unsure what type of PR advise American was given or whether they decided to decline it; now, their efforts to find new ways to boost revenues may have backfired. It will be interesting to see if they reverse their decision and how it takes them.
Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine wrote an excellent post today about Wal-mart's recent bad PR move. In the recent legal suit Wal-mart won against a former employee, who now has brain damage due to an auto accident, Jarvis' perspective is right on point with respect to Wal-mart's doozey of a move here. This is a case that underscores how sometimes company management should disregard their lawyers' advice and seriously weigh the cost/benefits of an action that has all the promise of a PR calamity--all for a few dollars. As the world's leading retailer, Wal-mart earns around 11.25 billion in profits. You'd think that this is a company that can afford to forgo persecuting a former employee, dragging her to court, and taking the only funds she won in the accident lawsuit that was earmarked to care for her. A big whopping $275,000. (They originally asked for almost twice as much but the judge decided against their request.)
My guess here is that their PR firm, Edleman, did in fact counsel Wal-mart against pursuing this legal suit, but this is also a huge assumption that Walmart and its team of lawyers even kept Edleman in the loop with their decision to pursue this suit. Wal-mart's bad judgment to wring the few dollars from a physically and mentally-impaired, former employee is frankly outrageous. (By the way, Ms. Shank also lost her 18-year old son, a soldier, in the Iraq war.)
Evidently, the public outrage to the story of Debbie Shank now has come back to bite Wal-mart and they are back-peddling. After taking Ms. Shank to court in several rounds and more than 3 years to win the measly $275,000 award, the world's biggest retailer is considering holding off on taking the money after all.
My goodness, the long-term damage the company has done to itself, future sales and profits, and any remaining company goodwill--- all with their focus on an extra dollar exemplifies cutting off your nose to spite your face. As Jarvis points out in his post, Wal-mart should have borrowed a page from Google's corporate mantra of "don't be evil."