PR Gaffe of the Week

November 21st, 2008


OK all you communications junkies, let’s play a little game we call PR Gaffe of the Week. This is the where we look at some of the most egregious communications missteps of the past few days and choose the one we think played out the worst in the media.


Sure there are plenty to pick from, but this week let’s focus on two areas that are on everyone’s minds these days – the financial meltdown and, of course, football.


From the world of sports we don’t have to look any further than the much maligned signal caller of our Philadelphia Iggles. After a 13-13 tie with the hapless Cincinnati Bengals, Donovan McNabb admitted in his post-game press conference that he didn’t know an NFL game could end in a tie.


Really? You didn’t know a game could end in a tie, even though you’ve played in the league for ten years and in that time another game has ended in a tie? You didn’t know a game could end in a tie even though virtually every fan who has watched the game since the age of ten knows that rule, not to mention they announce it prior to the coin flip of every overtime period? Well the media and the fans couldn’t believe it either and they killed him for it on every outlet from local sports talk station WIP, to Sports Illustrated, to the Rush Limbaugh show.  He might get some slack if he were a linemen, but he’s the quarterback and he’s got to know that.


So let D Mac’s slip up sink in as we move on to Capitol Hill and the CEOs of the big three US Automakers. These three knuckle sticks didn’t even have to say anything to wind up on the hot seat. They came to Washington this week to plead for a $25 billion bailout to save their ailing industry and, according to them, the US economy. And how did they get there? The same way any down on its luck trio would – on a private jet!


Gentlemen, one simple rule; everything communicates – and pauper and private jet simply don’t mix. Of course they were widely lampooned for the move. One of the best barbs came from Rep. Gary Ackerman of NY who said, “It’s almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious.”  Now there’s a guy who knows how to communicate.


So who wins, Eagles ignoramus or out of touch auto execs? You make the call. From our standpoint we’re going with McNabb. Why? As far as the three stooges, we’ve just come to expect that kind of hubris from business executives. With McNabb he loses in the “whose smarter than a third grader” game this week. Besides it’s en vogue to pile on the Eagles these days in Philly and who are we to buck the trend? 

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