To create the list, Forbes partnered with Statista to survey “more than 12,700 experts and 20,500 customers who nominated more than 5,000 firms. Participants were asked to indicate how likely they were to nominate a particular agency on a scale of zero (very unlikely) to 10 (very likely).”
The biggest PR disasters often are those that are self-inflicted, and the Girl Scouts are the latest organization to prove this point.
For the record, I love the Girl Scouts. My daughter was a card-carrying member, and who doesn’t love their cookies? But tweeting about the confirmation of arguably the most controversial U.S. Supreme Court Justice in the past century one week before one of the nastiest presidential elections in modern times is just asking – no, begging – for trouble.
Unsurprisingly, it turned into the usual three-act play:
Act 1: Tweet something controversial about a 50-50 issue.
Act 2: Feel the withering backlash from 50% of the people; try to back away from the issue.
Act 3: Incur the wrath of the 50% of people on the other side of the issue for trying to back away from the issue; slowly realize that you have pissed off approximately 100% of people.
The Girl Scouts is a beloved organization that will withstand the criticism because of the strength of its reputation (see Susan G. Komen Foundation). But it was an unforced error, and displayed a stunning lack of understanding about today’s political climate.
“Just an astoundingly irresponsible decision to publish this, by someone so naive and out of touch with reality that they don’t realize that they’re actively helping endanger a fellow journalist. For the past two weeks people associated with the rally have been actively threatening journalists in general and (Kyle Clark) specifically, something that the state’s largest newspaper in effect just co-signed. Just when you think the bar for that opinion section can’t get any lower.”
Daniel Cole writing in The Denver Post: “9News would have problems in the wake of Lee Keltner’s killing regardless, but the station’s problems are worse because its most prominent anchor frequently targets for ridicule the same kind of person Matthew Dolloff targeted with his gun.”
“Two weeks ago, Kyle Clark’s tweets were cute enough, if you didn’t mind seeing your neighbors bullied by the local newscaster. Now, a growing number of Coloradans are reading Clark’s commentary differently: as inexcusably hostile toward the Lee Keltners of our state, who deserve better than the treatment they receive from 9News’ anchors and security guards alike.’
“Certain other journalists have long recognized that Clark damages the brand — both his station’s and their profession’s. The Colorado Springs Gazette in an editorial identified Clark as ‘a liberal political activist.’ Veteran Colorado reporter Joey Bunch said, ‘Kyle is kind of a quasi-newsman.'”
“But while others have critiqued, Clark’s superiors have been content to watch him transform the 6:00 news into half-an-hour of preening sanctimony, and his social media channels into bloody political bludgeons. As Clark abuses his position under their watch, they richly deserve the problems he has created for them now.”
I’ve worked with a lot of engineers over the years, and they are almost always challenging from a marketing perspective. They tend to believe that marketing and public relations are superfluous. If you build the best product, they reason, the market will recognize that and your product will become the market leader. Marketing is a bastardization of the natural process.
I was reminded of that this week when I saw that Elon Musk has eliminated Tesla’s PR department. Sadly, Musk is confusing Tesla’s market cap for reputation and his Twitter account for marketing. That could spell in trouble as Tesla begins to be known more for failed customer service than being the only high-performing electric vehicle manufacturer.
Longtime Denver meteorologist Marty Coniglio was fired by 9News for a social media post that compared federal troops policing cities to Nazis. He explains his reasoning in a bylined article in Westword today:
“Better to be a good American than a good employee. Distilled to its most elemental expression, that is the reason why I blew up a 35-year career in broadcast media to add my voice to the alarms sounding about the current state of our Republic.”
“My former employerdid the right thing in firing me. They set the rules, standards of conduct and guidelines for content. Break them and you pay. I did and I did.”
“To anyone gleefully saying that I got what I deserved, I agree, so let’s move on…back to our imperiled democracy.”
I don’t know who woke up the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese marketing team, but they are on fire lately. The company unveiled a cheeky #SendNoods campaign today and it has quickly blown through its allotment of free Mac & Cheese.
This stunt marketing campaign follows several recent other ones – two months ago, Kraft relabeled some of its Mac & Cheese boxes as “breakfast food” for parents running short on patience during the pandemic, and last month it released a limited edition Pumpkin Spice Mac & Cheese because, you know, fall.
From Edward Ongweso Jr. at Vice: “For over six years, one Wikipedia user—AmaryllisGardener—has written well over 23,000 articles on the Scots Wikipedia and done well over 200,000 edits. The only problem is that AmaryllisGardener isn’t Scottish, they don’t speak Scots, and none of their articles are written in Scots.”
“Since 2013, this user—a self–professed Christian INTP furry living somewhere in North Carolina—has simply written articles that are written in English, riddled with misspellings that mimic a spoken Scottish accent. … On a page about the movie Million Dollar Baby, AmaryllisGardener wrote ‘This film is aboot an unnerappreciatit boxin trainer.’ This sort of language is repeated across all 23,000 articles they wrote, as well as in the articles they edited; because they are an admin of the site, they have the ability to control much of what ultimately stays on it.”
“Ireland’s Supreme Court has ruled that bread sold by the fast food chain Subway contains so much sugar that it cannot be legally defined as bread. The ruling came in a tax dispute brought by Bookfinders Ltd., an Irish Subway franchisee, which argued that some of its takeaway products – including teas, coffees and heated sandwiches – were not liable for value-added tax.”
In a sign of how COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement are creating fundamental, long-term changes at public relations agencies, Weber Shandwick has hired a Chief Workforce Innovation and Operations Officer. From Aleda Stam at PR Week:
Weber Shandwick has hired Brian Offutt as chief workforce innovation and operations officer. Offutt starts in the newly created position on Thursday, reporting to Weber Shandwick president and CEO Gail Heimann. He will be responsible for evolving the firm’s workplace and workforce, focusing on preparing the agency for a hybrid work environment and ensuring inclusivity and equity.
“‘It became clear to us during the coronavirus pandemic that we needed to approach innovation with the same rigor and vigor that we approach our client work,” said Heimann. ‘We recognize that talent is the soul of the firm, and building our workforce in a hybrid situation with inclusion is critical to our continued leadership in the industry and beyond.'”