Kicking Off the New Year With PR Faux Pas

By: Bruce Kennedy

snapchatJanuary 2014 has been the month of PR blunders. With just four weeks of the New Year checked off on our calendars we’ve already seen a bountiful array of PR fails that will make the top of our 2014-year in review list next December. From social media to storied alcohol brands and the continuing Target saga, PR problems have been wide spread for several well-known national brands.


Hennessy Suggests Mixed Drinks MLK Jr. Would Be Proud of:

If you read that headline and immediately asked, “What were they thinking?” you’re in good company. Hennessy is not the first brand to foolishly try and capitalize on a day of somber remembrance, but we really hope they’re the last. We’ve seen enough examples of this backfiring that it should be a headline in every PR 101 session.

In an effort to minimize damage Hennessy has placed the blame on its PR team. Their executive team issued an apology to consumers referring to the release as “unauthorized and inappropriate media communication.


Snapchat Apologizes… Finally:

Snapchat is among the big brands that recently dealt with massive user security breaches. The hack was initially reported via the Snapchat blog on Jan. 2 and it took the platform until Jan. 9 to issue an apology to their users. In addition to their apology they released an update allowing users to opt-out of linking their phone numbers with their username, addressing the cause of the original hack,

The hack and late apology sparked thousands of news reports across the nation. Snapchat learned a valuable lesson every business should know; when you’re met with a crisis always issue a statement within a few hours. Hopefully, Snapchat has invested money in a good PR team.


OfficeMax Mailing Address Blunder:

The headline says it all: Dad gets OfficeMax mail addressed ‘Daughter Killed in Car Crash’.

OfficeMax sent a letter to a man addressed, to: Daughter Killed in Car Crash.’ That man is Mike Seay, he lost his 17 year-old daughter in a car crash less than a year ago. Companies like OfficeMax use big data mining to gather as much information as they can on their customers, and this is a case of one particular piece of information ending up the last place it should have been.

To OfficeMax’s credit, their corporate communications team immediately issued an apology saying they were “deeply sorry.” They did try to slip in some damage control, noting that the mailing list came from a third party provider, but the apology was front and center in their response.

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