October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween! As Halloween is the time to share horror stories, we here at Aria came together to discuss the scariest and most ghastly PR nightmares we’ve seen this year. Bad press can kill, and as PR pros, we got the goosebumps watching these eights stories unfold this year:

  1. Donald Trump - Obviously, Donald Trump’s PR blunders could fill this whole list – but our team especially shutters at his statements regarding the judge presiding over the Trump University litigations.  Luckily, for Donald Trump, it seems no press is bad press for him.
  2. Harambe – The killing of a beloved gorilla after a toddler fell into his enclosure turned into a major PR problem for the Cincinnati Zoo. While the public took sides over who was to blame, we’re sure Harambe will be remembered with Halloween costumes this year.
  3. Ryan Lochte – After stories surfaced that the 12-time Olympic medalist had been robbed at gun point during the Rio Olympics, the media (and public) were initially sympathetic towards him. However, as details began to emerge, tides turned against the Olympian as it was revealed he’d fabricated the whole incident. From his lies to his weak apology, we were horrified by the mishandling of the situation and he certainly felt the effect of bad PR with the loss of his major sponsorships.
  4. The Rio Olympics – From the unfortunate timing of a Zika outbreak, to reports of unsanitary conditions, to green pool water and even the Ryan Lochte scandal, the Rio Olympics were covered in a shroud of bad press. We couldn’t help but think that maybe someone didn’t do their homework!
  5. Samsung – Poor Samsung is in the middle of a firestorm – literally. As Samsung expands its recalls on its Galaxy Note 7 phone due to them spontaneous catching on fire, we are eagerly watching to see if Samsung will be able to recover from this crisis.
  6. Hillary Clinton’s emails – The PR nightmare that won’t die. Hillary Clinton has had to defend her use of a private email server for over a year, and just when it seems the nightmare has been put to bed, the FBI raises it from the dead with the announcement of a new review.
  7. Fox News – In the middle of election season, Fox News found its company in the middle of a scandal surrounding its founder and now former CEO, Roger Ailes. When Ailes was accused of sexual assault, the network was forced into a difficult position, especially as more allegations came to light over the coming days.
  8. Billy Bush – Billy Bush’s fall from grace came swiftly. After a leaked video from 2005 featuring lewd comments from Billy Bush and Donald Trump, the court of public opinion was not kind to Billy. Within weeks of the tape being made public, Billy Bush had been fired from his gig at the Today show. It’s yet to be seen if he will be able to recover from the damage.

What other PR horror stories left you shaking in your boots this year? Let us know! To hear our thoughts on PR stories as the headlines unravel or learn how our team would have handled one of these situations, be sure to follow us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn. Or contact us at info@ariamarketing.com if you are facing your own PR nightmare.

Blog post written by:
Danielle Johns
Author: Danielle Johns
Account Director