The PR Guru

January 5, 2010

PR Gaffes of the Year 2009 (Part Six)

In November, the banks – and the British legal system – did nothing to improve their public standings after the High Court’s ruling on ‘unfair’ bank charges.

Maybe it’s a naive view, but perhaps the banks could’ve done themselves a favour and agreed to the payout – particularly considering our money has saved them from disaster more than once over the past couple of years.

The ruling merely added fuel to the fire of those who claim the legal system is weighted towards those with money.

PM Gordon Brown was also taking the flak, from The Sun and the Daily Mail (surprise surprise) yet again, after fouling up a letter of condolence to Jacqui Janes, mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan.

I must admit to having some sympathy for him over this, because it should have been checked by someone in his office before it was sent out. And it also smacked of hypocrisy from The Sun, who of course have never spelt anyone’s name wrong 🙂

The highlight of the November headlines for me though was Katie Price’s stint on ITV reality show “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”

She was looking for some much-needed good publicity – she’d taken a bit of a pounding from the press after splitting from husband Peter Andre – and decided a few weeks in the Australian jungle would help.

The reality couldn’t have been further from the truth, with thousands of I’m a Celeb viewers putting her forward for Bushtucker Trials day after day, until she walked out.

I think she seriously misjudged the feelings of the British people, which surprised me as I think she is usually quite astute. She assumed she could win people round by eating a few bugs and then come out with everyone back on her side.

What a disaster it was! In fact it’s probably been a year to forget for her, because the handling of her divorce from Peter Andre has been terrible.

My advice would’ve been to keep a low profile until everything blew over, which is pretty much what her ex did. Instead she was all over the papers, partying hard and showing off her new beau Alex Reid.

Her lack of humility and dignity has drastically affected her popularity, and her stint in Oz certainly won’t have helped. Shockingly she doesn’t seem to have learnt anything from the experience, judging from Reid’s appearance in the Celebrity Big Brother house this week.

Maybe the message will start sinking in if he’s evicted pretty sharpish?

And finally, onto December, which perhaps saw the biggest gaffe of the lot. But more on that later.

Eurotunnel will be regretting their response to the breakdown of their trains at the worst possible time – the weekend before Christmas.

It’s one thing to have a breakdown, I think that can be explained away as they’ve had a pretty good record since the tunnel opened in 1994. But five???

I was shocked by how unprepared they were though! Surely they could’ve expected a breakdown to happen at some point and have some kind of plan in place?

Unfortunately, they didn’t, and more than 2000 people were stuck in that horrible confined space, with no food, water or air conditioning – just what you want in the middle of a cold snap.

And their offer of a free journey when the problems had been sorted was hardly likely to appease. Hopefully they’ll have a better crisis management plan in place for the next breakdown.

Charlie Sheen isn’t exactly the most popular bloke at the moment either. He’s no stranger to controversy so you would think he’d know how to behave like a grown-up by now.

Allegations of domestic violence against wife Brooke Mueller will not have helped his standing. I’d be surprised if we see Charlie on our screens any time soon.

Despite those cock-ups, there is only one person worthy of the prize in December – and it’s a man who is pretty used to winning trophies.

Tiger Woods had a month to forget after his little car accident on Nov 27. Various women came forward claiming to have had sordid affairs with him over the past few years, putting his marriage to Elin Nordegren and career in serious trouble.

And the sponsors who made him sport’s first billionaire began to leave him in droves. Gatorade, AT&T, Accenture and others have all cancelled deals with him in recent weeks, and games developer EA is supposedly considering doing the same.

Yes, he has taken a big hit – one far worse than the one his Cadillac took – if only he had listened to us before coming out with all those wishy-washy media statements.

So that’s it for another year – hope you enjoyed our review! We’ll be keeping our eye on the gaffes of 2010 – of which there will be plenty – so make sure to bookmark this page and check out our updates.

Or just come back at the end of the year for our next review!

Have a brilliant year everyone, from all at Richard Swancott Associates 🙂

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