The Daily Telegraph (a leading British newspaper) recently published a list of the top company PR blunders which makes for quite an entertaining read. Clearly inspired by the recent fiasco at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, the article includes a fantastic example of when a single executive can create havoc through bad publicity.
Formerly head of Ratners, one of the biggest high street jewellers in the UK, Gerald Ratner once famously criticised his own products during a speech at the Institute of Directors. It was picked up by all the major newspapers in the UK who either took his quote out of context, or quoted him as saying all his products were “total crap”. I believe one tabloid’s headline was actually “crapners”! This essentially rocked his business, costing it over £500m (yes roughly $1bn) and of course his job.
I don’t want to copy any of the article’s excellent examples and steel the thunder of a nice bit of writing, so head over the the Telegraph to read the full article. But for a simple bit of very good PR advice, follow the words of an old boss of mine:
if you aren’t happy seeing what you’ve said on the front page of a newspaper, then don’t say it.
Very nice advice too if you ask me.