When it comes to public relations, some have declared any publicity is better than no publicity.  I’’m not sure how true that is in every case.  To that point, we can reflect on a number of 2012 PR events identified by Bloomberg Businessweek for which I’m sure someone wishes they could get a “do over” (“The Year in Crisis PR: When Businesses Made News, Whether They Wanted To or Not” 12/17/12–12/23/12, pp. 84–85).  These are just a few of last year’s PR disasters:


1—(September) Apple releases the iPhone 5.  It’s bigger, lighter, and faster than the last one.  Just don’t try to use the maps function, because you might end up driving onto the runway at Dulles.



2—(June) “Libor” briefly becomes a household word after bankers at Barclays in London are caught fixing the influential interest rate and fined $451 million.  One conspirator emails another, “Dude, I owe you big time!”



3—(March) New York-based advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty attempts to turn homeless people into Wi-Fi hotspots at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.  Needless to say, they soon awake to the reality that this is literally the worst idea in the world.



4—(September) Patrick Stewart takes on Time Warner Cable.  The result?  He tweets, “All I wanted to do was set up a new account . . . but 36hrs later, I’ve lost the will to live.”


Is there such a thing as a perfect company or a perfect businessperson?  Of course not.  Nevertheless, these PR disasters certainly remind us how important it is to do your homework and think matters through before taking action.  Living in interesting times may have its benefits, but we don’t want them to be too interesting.


May you never drive on runways, may you owe no one big time, may all your Wi-Fi hotspots have homes, and may you never lose your will to live!

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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