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Biggest PR Blunders of 2022

At the end of each year, it seems like we’ve all witnessed enough shit shows to last us a lifetime. This year, it seemed like every time I opened Twitter I thought to myself, “WHERE are these people’s PR teams?” PR can be unpredictable, but some of these situations made me seriously wonder about these publicists!! In 2022, we watched a lot of disasters unravel. Here are a few that especially made me say “WHO let this happen?”

We can’t talk about shit shows until we talk about Will Smith’s Oscar slap. Every group chat in America was taking sides on who was in the wrong. Husbands and wives were fighting as one defended Smith’s slap and the other defended Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s hair loss. Even if you think Rock was an ass for making the comment, Smith’s reputation seemed to be squashed! Smith went on to say “I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” he wrote on Instagram. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.” Smith released MANY statements trying to clean up the mess, but it didn’t seem to work. So he apologized, but did it matter at that point? PR pros know how quickly your image can go down the drain, and this is only one example! Your public image can be ruined in SECONDS, literally!

You’d think that children holding bears in bondage-style attire would be a red flag for Balenciaga, but their last campaign proves not. I keep reading about this campaign wondering HOW any of this made it past the drawing board and was approved by a PR team.

If you live under a rock and haven’t heard, the designer brand, Balenciaga, dropped a campaign that featured children wearing bondage gear. Yes…read that again…I wish I was kidding. Oh, and it gets worse when you find out one of the photos released includes a document about virtual child porn, hidden right in the image. People were shocked and confused at this huge f*$% up by the brand. Balenciaga was slow to respond, finally trying to clean up the mess by acknowledging the poor choice, condemning child abuse and saying they were not aware of the child porn document… Uh, it’s safe to say it's a little too late to clean this mess up since conspiracy theories about you name it was flying across the internet. This one speaks for itself, good luck Balenciaga and God bless the publicist cleaning up this mess!

I’m breathing a sigh of relief now that The World Cup is over so I can stop cringing at the constant controversy. Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, it did. The mess began when it was announced that the World Cup would take place in Qatar, a country known to be anti-LGBTQ+. To make things worse, FIFA banned the OneLove armband, even though they posted pro-LGBTQ+ content on social media. I’m gonna say it again… where are the publicists? Has anyone ever heard of keeping a cohesive brand message? This is PR 101 guys!! Wait though, it gets worse. FIFA President Gianni Infantino held a press conference.

“What we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years before starting to give moral lessons. Reform and change takes time. It took hundreds of years in our countries in Europe. It takes time everywhere, the only way to get results is by engaging … not by shouting.”

As you can guess, the lack of apology and accountability went over like a lead balloon. We don’t know who was in charge of his media training… but he should fire them. Not to be bias, but we do media training… and we’d set him straight.

As we all reflect on these dumpster fires, we can only guess what 2023 will throw at us.

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