This Month in Public Relations: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of PR Practices

Anyone who spends five seconds looking can find examples of bad PR practices. In April, there were three HUGE PR disasters – United Airlines’ violent passenger removal, Pepsi’s ad faux-pas, and #FyreFestival. It can be harder to find out what is actually effective and works in the PR industry. So, we’ve rounded up some resources for you in April’s ‘This Month in Public Relations’ post:

  • For examples of bad PR practices beyond the three mentioned at the beginning of this blog, just follow the twitter hashtag #PRFail. While there are some random unrelated things, you can get a great idea of what not to do by learning from other people’s mistakes.
  • Find partner organizations to help you spread your message, and that you can also use to leverage their expertise, contacts, and reputation. A great example of this is Missing Type campaign done by NHS Blood and Transplant in 2015 and 2016. The organization asked brands, organisations, and influencers to remove A, O and B (the letters that make up the blood groups) from their websites, Twitter names and signage without explaining why. In the end they had a 689 total pieces of media coverage and a combined total reach of 347,619,784. (via
  • Invest in a crisis communications plan. Part of the problem with April’s major PR fails was their complete failure to handle the situation properly from a communications POV. In United’s case, the PR fail was compounded as they had another recent customer relations issue (when they kicked teenage girls off a flight for wearing leggings – which also had issues with how it was handled). Here are four key lessons that we can learn about crisis communications from what United did – or didn’t – do. (via
  • Don’t spray and pray. This means don’t just send your pitch (or press release) to 1000 journalists hoping someone will randomly be interested and pick it up. Create a targeted media list – even if it is only 10 outlets/journalists – and send customized individual pitches to those relevant contacts. You will have better bang for your buck with the second method every time. Check out The Agency’s own Pitching 101 series for tips on how to rock your media relations campaign.

What other public relations stories had you talking in April? Let us know on Twitter at @PRTheAgency or in the comment section below!

Make sure you check back next month for more stories discussing our next PR topic!

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