Oh, you’ve seen them. Chances are that you’ve sat with your mouth hanging open in amazement at the PR nightmare story of the moment. Businesses are run by people. People are human and we make mistakes. We’re thoughtless. We’re careless. It sounds really insensitive to say that about us, but it’s a collective statement. As much as we all try to be the best humans we can be, we fall short over and over again. Having a digital PR specialist can make the sting a little less… sting-y? Better yet, your PR person should be intimately involved in big marketing decisions. They’re trained to see the potential harm campaigns can cause.

What can go wrong? Oh, I’m so glad you asked! Keep on reading to give just a tiny taste of very current PR disasters.

Forever 21 Faux Pax

Forever 21 has been in PR Nightmare stories more than once. Their most recent faux pax was sending Atkins Diet bars with their clothing orders. Forever 21 received a ton of backlash. Plus size customers tweeting about their uninvited diet bars arriving with their clothing orders. People who have struggled for years with eating disorders finding diet bars included with their clothes.

So how could this have been avoided? Forever 21 stated that they included the diet bars with all of their orders as a courtesy, but have since pulled them from upcoming orders. Cross marketing is cool. I get it! Atkins probably paid them a decent amount of money to give these away to their customers. Multiple revenue streams is a great business decision. There’s a right way to do it though – and a wrong way. If a PR person had been involved, they might have suggested doing a pop up before the order was processed that said, “We love partnering with other companies to offer the latest greatest products. Atkins Diet has offered to send a free sample diet bar with all of our customer’s orders. If you’re interested, just click “yes” below.” Bada bing, bada boom. Disaster averted.

Chris Cuomo No-No

Chris Cuomo. You either love him or you hate him. There’s not a lot of in-between. Have you seen the latest video of him raging out on a man after calling him “Fredo”, referencing Godfather films? It was bad. There’s no disputing it. But what happened next is equally important. You see, there are public figures out there whose maturity levels are equivalent to that of a 2nd grader. When they say something completely off the wall ridiculous, untrue or harsh, they defend their words to the bitter end. Ego’s in a PR whirlwind = bad news. It can make you look insensitive (at best) if you’re not careful.

Cuomo knows that his public figure status means he has to be more careful than the regular Joe Schmo would have to be. His fans, knowingly or unknowingly, often look to him as an example. Knowing that, and likely consulting with CNN’s public relations team, he came out with a statement following the release of the video. He didn’t deny anything. He didn’t try to give excuses for his behavior. He owned it by stating,

“Appreciate all the support but – truth is I should be better than the guys baiting me. This happens all the time these days. Often in front of my family. But there is a lesson: no need to add to the ugliness; I should be better than what I oppose…”

If you suck at life occasionally, and we all do, own it. Learn from it. Apologize for it. Keep it moving.

    H&M Monkey Madness

    This one blew me away. I was that person sitting on the couch reading the story with my jaw hanging open. H&M had a black child modeling a hoodie that said, “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle.”

    I’m sorry. WHAT in the actual …. were you THINKING?! They were already hurting financially and now you’re going to (be it intentional or not) alienate an entire race of people because of cultural insensitivity? This wasn’t just a problem in the US. It was the cause of boycotts and a store in South Africa actually being broken into and vandalized. Let me throw out a couple of cliches here that ring 100% true in this case (and most cases.) Perception is everything. The path to hell is paved with good intentions. Use your brain – and a kick ass PR company.

    If you would like more information on hiring Powers Digital Marketing to be a part of your PR and Marketing team – don’t hesitate to contact us.