Public Relations

The PR sins and wins of 2017

Nicole Reaney /

It’s been a tumultuous year in brand image for some companies and personalities right round the world, while for others, 2017 has brought new-found fame and likeability. From the shameful to the opportunistic, gathered here are just some of the events that seeped our headlines this year.

The PR sins

Straight out of the (jacket) gate, who could forget 2017 starting with one very calamitous wardrobe malfunction. When footage was leaked to the public of one very agitated Amber Sherlock, it went beyond our national borders and become a viral success internationally. The behind-the-scenes spat between her and Julie Snook stemmed from the TV presenters all finding themselves wearing white just seconds before going live on air. Fast forward six months and Amber once again found herself in identical green to an entertainment reporter … we are yet to be privy as to what went down in the newsroom that day.

Perhaps it was a case of Mistaken Identity, but Delta Goodrem may not have been Sitting on Top of the World when her license was suspended for speeding. Not one to take things sitting down, Delta returned to the driver’s seat appearing in an ad for Apple Music. But public fury and complaints to the advertising watchdog saw the ad pulled for safety and role model concerns as no seat belt visible worn while she was driving.

The Cheesecake Shop was made to eat humble pie for its social media gaffe that backfired. In an attempt to news-jack an incident when a was pie jammed in the face of Qantas Boss Alan Joyce, an open letter by the company posted on Facebook stated it was somewhat concerned the lemon meringue pie was not appreciated to its full sweetness. Within 24 hours the company had apologised.

From Harvey Weinstein in the US right back to our own nation, the year has seen the unveiling of unscrupulous sex scandals. The affair to remember involved Seven West Media’s chief executive, which came to a head following its release to the public late last year. This year has also seen the arrest of former A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack, while Don Burke is facing accusations as part of the investigation led by Tracey Spicer that is set to reveal a systemic environment of harassment, abuse and predatory behaviour in the media industry.

Apart from the near 80% of eligible Australians voicing their opinion in the same-sex marriage postal survey, the communication campaigns from both sides of the debate were completely ineffective. Topped off with a budget set at $122 million, there was a lack of integrity, transparency and continued unnecessary and hurtful attacks.

The PR wins

It’s been a big year in the reality TV stakes for celebrities seeking to reignite their past fame. From Casey Donovan’s win in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and the subsequent release of her new single, through to Sophie Monk’s Bachelorette appearance, which has seen her snare daily media attention along with lucrative engagements including Uber Eats and Slim Secrets.

Meanwhile, the battle for consumer dollars continues in the supermarket wars. In November, Coles announced it would extend its “quiet hour” initiative in 68 supermarkets to provide a more supportive shopping environment for shoppers on the autism spectrum. Responding to customer feedback and in partnership with Autism Spectrum Australia, the initiative aims to prevent sensory overload.

Over at Aldi, could they just be hammering home their version of Cheap Cheap? Just when you thought having alcohol available in store was enough of a win, the chain has won customers over for its wine offering once again with a $7 bottle winning wine of the year at the Melbourne International Wine Competition.

For such a potentially divisive organisation, the NSW Police Force Facebook page is nailing social media by capturing an audience of over 1 million people. Apart from being the expected source of minute to minute information on serious crime, community warnings and announcements, those running the page have been able to reach and engage a multi-tiered public audience by peppering entertaining content throughout their feed. Serious messages like speed or drinking warnings are articulately conveyed through a filter of humour, the underlying gravity of topic still evident and retained. An average post will have over 10,000 comments and up to 500 shares as the public steps up to support the safety and protection of our community.

The Love Your Sister Movement was a genuine win for drawing compassion, awareness and connection. Led by Samuel Johnson, and his sister Connie Johnson who sadly died in September, she will be remembered for her fight to bring attention and funds to cancer research and bravely inviting the nation to share her journey. Beginning with Sam riding his unicyle around Australia, the group has raised more than $7 million.

Topping of the year is Prince Harry. Ahhh Prince Harry. Even when he does do wrong, the population just adores him even more. With his engagement to Meghan Markle recently announced and the impending wedding in May next year, 2018 will see our media and social world engrossed in royal magnitude.

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Nicole Reaney

Nicole Reaney is the director of InsideOut PR and founder of social influencer agency #AsSeenOn.

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