PR Disasters: What Went Wrong in 2016

2016 is a year that will be remembered for a lot of things – the unpredictable path to the presidency for Donald Trump, the high volume of culturally iconic deaths and the Chicago Cubs ending sport’s longest streak of futility. There were a few memories worth mentioning in the public relations and marketing side of the world as well, and what better time to remember them than our last blog of 2016?

Not to stay on the topic of Trump, but his campaign was truly a PR disaster. The constant turning over of staff, an out-of-control social media campaign and mixed messages from his supporters on what he said and what he supported. Add on top of that his comments that alienated women, minorities and people with common sense, and it was clearly one of the worst PR campaigns in election history. Yet, through it all, he managed to appeal to the masses with a fixed message of change, and it was enough to get him the necessary electoral votes to take the position of the world’s most powerful person in 2017.

The Summer Olympics were a PR fiasco on several levels, starting with the buildup to the criminal, humanitarian and environmental issues surrounding the sites in Brazil. For the most part, those issues seemed to dissipate once the ceremonies began. Then, a large contingency of the Russian team was banned due to performance enhancing drug use, only to have some of them reinstated just prior to the start of the Olympics. It was typical Olympic politics. Finally, USA swimmer Ryan Lochte created his own personal PR problem with his involvement in some late-night shenanigans, which he then lied about as part of a cover-up to avoid embarrassment. Overall, this year’s Olympics seemed to be one the world may want to soon forget.

Wells Fargo had a PR year they would soon like to forget. Employees felt pressured to make up fake accounts so they could meet unrealistic numbers and the fallout led to all sorts of problems for the financial institution. CEO John Stumpf at first blamed employees for the actions but then backtracked to take on the responsibility himself. It was too late, however, and Stumpf retired in October.

North Carolina’s image took a header in 2016 with the law known nationally as the “Bathroom Bill,” which among other things regulated the issue of transgendered citizens using public restrooms. The outrage was immediate and many businesses – including the NBA – fought back by taking away business from the state. The governor who supported the bill – Pat McCrory – lost his election, and a repeal or updated version of the bill is in the works. In the meantime, Jupiter Promotions is among the growing list of companies not doing business in North Carolina.

And the final PR disaster we will bring up for 2016 is the embarrassingly long list of companies that had a chance to do business with Jupiter Promotions but chose to go with someone else or to do it themselves or to do nothing at all. We keep that private list on file because our outreach has been extensive, but we also know those on the list have made a decision to settle for second-best. Or third-best in many cases.

Jupiter Promotions offers up the best value of any PR firm in Oklahoma and quite possibly the nation. Don’t let 2017 be a repeat of 2016 – do the right thing and get on board so we can grow your company effectively. Plus, we want to make sure you aren’t on someone else’s “2017 PR disasters” list around this time next year!


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