PR winners and losers of 2015

It has been another tumultuous year in the world of PR. But who were the biggest PR winners and losers of the year? Here are my top three in each category, writes Phil Hall of PHA Media.

Who are Phil Hall's PR winners and losers in 2015?
Who are Phil Hall's PR winners and losers in 2015?

The 02 Wear the Rose Campaign 
The sponsors held a Wear The Rose concert with Take That at the O2 arena, and gave away 50,000 free shirts in a washing line style stunt, to ensure that there was a sea of fans demonstrating their support for the home nation up and down the country - a great example of successful brand awareness and fan engagement.

The best reactive PR stunt goes to Snickers and their gift of 48 chocolate bars to Jeremy Clarkson. The confectioner sent them to the presenter following his well-publicised fracas with a producer after being denied a hot meal. The box was sent alongside the caption ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ – the brands popular advertising tagline. The image went viral and was also picked up by extensively by the media. Jumping on the news agenda with a stunt that has a genuine ‘fit’ can yield fantastic results.

Gary Neville 
Since his retirement, Gary Neville’s reputation and profile have gone from strength to strength. He has taken football punditry to new heights on Sky Sports and helped mastermind the rise of non-league outfit Salford FC who are currently enjoying their most successful run in the clubs history, and cemented his nice guy reputation by allowing 30 homeless protesters to stay in a building he owns throughout winter before renovation began to turn it into a hotel.

When news surfaced that the VW Group had programmed its diesel engines to perform in a more eco-friendly manner during testing, the manufacturer suffered a crippling blow to its reputation and its stock price. Rather than step out in front of the situation and take control of the narrative, the company appeared to accept culpability without any kind mitigation or explanation. There was no full disclosure and the company was not speaking clearly to its primary customer base. Moreover, there was a lack of consistency and uniformity across its international Twitter feeds.

Kids Company 
Financial mismanagement was evidently integral to the charity’s demise. But the "smear campaign" that Camila Batmanghelidjh accused the media of perpetuating may have seemed less pervasive if her engagement with the media was better handled. She was videoed speaking to journalists through her car window, denying any knowledge of the allegations and making ill-advised, self-victimising remarks which the public can only tolerate for so long. An alternative spokesperson from Kids Company to address the allegations instead may have minimised some of the negative attention. 

Sepp Blatter
In a crisis of this magnitude - a classic example of root and branch failure from the very top - the first thing that needs to happen is an honest appraisal of the situation by senior management. And then decisive action, a will to move. If FIFA was any regular organisation, Blatter would have been immediately forced out, not allowed to stay on for several months in a naked attempt to cherry-pick his replacement – but Blatter was left to linger like a bad smell. When most CEOs announce they’re stepping down, they go straight away. But Blatter remained in office despite the crucial need for a complete clear-out. A bad year culminated in him being banned from football for 8 years.
Phil Hall is the founder and chairman of PHA Media

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