PR people and journalists like to give awards for the biggest blunders of the year. I’m no different. Here’s my list of PR bloopers that might have turned out to be miracles for their owners.
1. Target blew it big time by getting hacked and exposing millions of people’s debit and credit cards. This would normally be a PR disaster, but Target offered a 10 percent discount to get back in everyone’s good graces. I thought this was a bad idea. But people flocked to the stores. That only goes to show how much people value their privacy. It’s 10 percent off their Christmas gift list.
2. Miley Cyrus blew up the boards when she introduced twerking to the rest of America. Within hours, she was vilified. Within weeks, she was on the cover of Rolling Stone and hosting SNL. Within a month, Glee compared “twerking” to that randy dance of the 1700s, the “waltz.” Can we all please grow up?
3. Edward Snowden. I’m not a fan; I’ll be honest. I think what he did was disgusting, unpatriotic and conspiratorial. But after seeing the revelations of the NSA, I gotta wonder if he will be remembered as the new Daniel Ellsberg.
4. Anthony Wiener. There’s no upside to his story. America loves rehabilitated politicians (think Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton). If Elliott Spitzer’s and John Edwards’ stories show anything, I think that love affair has ended.
5. The Cuckoo’s Nest. This was JK Rowling’s supposed anonymous book written under a pen name. The fact that a big publishing house took a bet on an unknown author with no platform is high fiction in itself. When word leaked (probably on purpose) that the author was really the name behind the Harry Potter series, sales soared.
6. Paula Deen. Just goes to show what a few ill-placed words can do to wreck your career. Note to celebs who think they are invincible: Put a muzzle on it.
7. The Duck Dynasty. I think they’ll survive this. They might not reach a national audience after this blows over, but they will own their niche. We’ve all been preaching that the riches are in the niches. Now it is time for them to micro target market to their audience.
8. Chick-fil-A. Hand in hand with Duck Dynasty, they proclaimed their religious beliefs, stuck to their guns and consequently solidified their market. It’s not a meal. It’s a calling.
9. Young invincibles. You gotta love the media for giving a name to this group of 20-somethings who aren’t buying health insurance because they feel they are immune to any health problem. While I wish no one ill fortune, the odds of a 20-something getting pregnant or getting into a car accident are pretty high. Invincible? Tell that to my yoga teacher who was hit by a car while bicycling and now has a concussion. Try doing yoga with a concussion. Ouch. Young, but not invincible.
10. Amazon plans to use drones. And I’ll pole vault over the Empire State Building! No way will the FAA allow drones to occupy airspace. But Amazon wowed 60 Minutes and America with the announcement. Great PR move.
Are these PR blunder or PR wonders? What do you think?
And before you make a PR move, consider hiring a PR pro so you don’t wind up on this list next year.