10. KitchenAid tweeted about Obamas dead grandma. During one of the presidential debates, KitchenAid tweeted to its 24,000 fans that " Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’. #nbcpolitics". KitchenAid immediately deleted the quote and tweeted an apology. A spokesperson said that "The tasteless joke in no way represents our values at KitchenAid, and that person wont be tweeting for us anymore."
9. American Apparel exploits Hurricane Sandy. People were outraged when American Apparel used Hurricane Sandy — a storm that killed over 100 people and initially left 8 million without power— as an excuse to sell merchandise. The retailer were offered a 20 percent off sale if they typed "SANDYSALE" in the online checkout "in case youre bored during the storm." American Apparel decided to ignore the PR disaster and didnt apologize. Gap, on the other hand, also did a Sandy sale and then tweeted apologies for offending people.
8, The NRAs magazine posted an insensitivetweet after the Aurora shooting. Hours after the nation learned about the tragic Aurora shooting that left 12 people dead at a late night showing of "The Dark Night Rises," American Rifleman, a magazine for the NRA, tweeted: "Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?" The tweet went up at 9:20 am EST and was taken down three hours later. A spokesman for the NRA stated, "A single individual, unaware of events in Colorado, tweeted a comment that is being completely taken out of context." PR lesson: be careful with pre-scheduled tweets.
7. Apple Maps was so bad, the CEO had toissue a public apology. When Apple banished Google Maps from the iPhone in September, consumers were concerned. Apples own maps app turned out to be riddled with errors, and didnt even include public transportation mapping. CEO Tim Cook had to issue a public apology, conceding that the maps "fell short" before suggesting users download competitors products from the Apps store. Cook specifically called out Bing, MapQuest, or going to Nokia and Googles website. The product manager who oversaw the maps team was fired months later.
6. The Internet exposes a Burger Kingemployee who stood in tubs of lettuce. In July, a Burger King employee thought that it would be a fun idea to post pictures on 4Chan of him standing (shoes on) in two large tubs of lettuce. The caption read: "This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King." Within minutes, other 4Chan members tracked down the culprit. Burger King addressed the PR disaster in a public statement regarding the chains "zero- tolerance policy against any violations such as the one in question" and fired three employees for the incident.
5. A Taco Bell employee tweeted a picture ofhimself urinating on a plate of nachos. Even though the Indiana worker assured people that the plate was going to be thrown out anyway, Taco Bell dealt with the crisis immediately by firing him.
4. Chick-fil -As president bashes gay marriage. Chick-fil -A caused quite a stir when its president publicly came out against gay marriage. Dan Cathy, who also serves as the COO, told "The Ken Coleman Show": "I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about." This caused a national outcry — some for, and others against. Citizens held boycotts and kiss- in protests at local chains, and mayors threatened to ban the chain from their cities . (Which mayors cant actually do.) More controversy arose when Jim Henson Co. slammed Chick-fil-A for its public stance, and then Jim Henson toys were prematurely chicken chain.
3. "Pink Slime" is discovered. In March, ABC News released a series of reports raising concern over a hamburger ingredient dubbed "pink slime," a mechanically separated and disinfected beef product officially known as lean finely textured beef. People began petitioning to get supermarkets, restaurants, and schools to all stop carrying the slime, even though various consumer experts said it was safe. This PR disaster led to massive layoffs. BPI eventually filed a lawsuit against ABC for $1.2 billion for allegedly making about 200 "false and misleading and defamatory" statements about the product.
2. McDonalds #McDStories Twitter campaigngets out of control. McDonalds January Twitter campaign asked readers to tweet their own special #McDStories. The problem: people used the hastag for horror stories like:: "Fingernail in my BigMac" and "Hospitalized for food poisoning after eating McDonalds in 1989. Never ate there again and became Vegetarian. Should have sued." McDonalds had no way to control what people tweeted, and all the stories showed up whenever anyone clicked the hashtag. McDonalds social media director Rick Wion emailed BI that: While #meetthefarmers was used for the majority of the day and successful in raising awareness of the Supplier Stories campaign, #mcdstories did not go as planned . We quickly pulled #mcdstories and it was promoted for less than two hours. Within an hour of pulling #McDStories the number of conversations about it fell off from a peak of 1600 to a few dozen. It is also important to keep those numbers in perspective. There were 72,788 mentions of McDonalds overall that day so the traction of #McDStories was a tiny percentage (2%) of that. With all social media campaigns, we include contingency plans should the conversation not go as planned. The ability to change midstream helped this small blip from becoming something larger.
1. Penn State covers up the Sandusky scandal.Penn State assistant football coach JerrySandusky was charged and later convicted ofrepeated counts of child molestation while atPenn State.Although the scandal was unveiled in 2011, theuniversity felt the full fallout in 2012 when theFreeh report stated that Joe Paterno and theadministration covered up Sandusky’sabuses, Major companies pulled sponsorhipsof the program. Part of the PR disaster was dueto Penn States initial difficulty addressing theproblem. Pulitzer-winning stories in ThePatriot-News of Harrisburg initially uncoveredthe scandal in March 2011. But Penn Stateremained tightlipped. PR firm Ketchum washired in November of 2011, and the schoolhired Edelman and La Torre for crisismanagement in April 2012. The school pledgedto spend $208,000 a month for 12 months onPR support, but the damage was done.
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