Public Relations Horror Stories

An image of a woman on her phone with purple Halloween icons on top of the photo.

If you didn’t know already, it’s our favorite time of the year (besides Christmas)…spooky season. And while some of us loved to be frightened, our PR team has seen enough horrifying Public Relations mistakes, this year alone, to give us nightmares for a lifetime. So, without further ado, grab your PSL, blanket, light a scented candle and take in the horrifying, cringeworthy, and downright terrifying PR stories of 2019 (so far).


Planes these days basically fly themselves. Right? No. Boeing, has more than 10,000 commercial jetliners in service, and to say they dropped the ball this year when they failed to alert operators of a new feature on their latest model…is a MASSIVE understatement. It was only after two crashes that Boeing revealed its 737 Max planes had an autopilot system which engaged during takeoff and was subject to failure. PEOPLE DIED. To make matters even worse, I mean PEOPLE DIED, the company blamed the pilots and stated, “this is a technical problem that we can correct with pilot training.”


These shoes were made for walking. Let us clarify. These shoes were only made for walking. Running, jumping and other forms of physical activity may cause Nike shoes to burst at the seams. Confused? Let’s start from the beginning.

This February, during the much anticipated basketball game between the Duke University Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels, thirty-six seconds into the game, a Duke player’s Nike shoe split wide open. This was one of the most intense rivalry games in college basketball, meaning everyone and their mom was watching. To make matters worse, it happed to Zion Williamson, who was the number one overall NBA draft pick AS A FRESHMAN. Then to top it all off…Williamson suffered a knee injury as a result of the broken shoe and was unable to return to the game. Lastly, Obama was there (we miss you).

Nike handled it better than Boeing (NO ONE DIED) and took the blame. They wished Zion a speedy recovery, but YIKES. Tough day to be a Nike stock holder.

Nike Round Two

What’s a good horror story without a sequel? While Nike may try to position themselves as a progressive and accepting brand, they took a step in the wrong direction this year. The company was caught cutting endorsement compensation for athletes who were on maternity leave. Nike gets a pat on the back for acknowledging and vowing to change the policy, but that only happened AFTER the brand received an enormous amount of backlash.

College Admissions Scandal

While most of us get into the college of our dreams based on our merits, we all learned this year there are some who just sign checks with a whole lot of zeros. This spring, the scandal broke that a number of parents had bribed the staff and coaches at some of the U.S.’s top universities to get their children admitted. As you can imagine, this caused both the involved schools and the parents to apologize. While some were sincere in their apologies, others just signed autographs.

Yup. Hallmark and Full House star, Lori Laughlin, had the nerve to smile and wave at the crowd during her legal proceedings… like what??? We guess the threat of federal prison wasn’t enough to inspire her to show remorse for committing a federal crime. Talk about a tarnished self-image.

Naturally, we would have handled each of these situations with far more grace and sophistication, but we guess that’s what these brands and people get for not hiring us. That’s why we will leave you with a piece of advice. Don’t be like these brands. Contact us instead.

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