When it comes to monumental public relations and marketing moments, 2011 covered quite a bit of ground.
On the local level, San Diego Gas & Electric blackout definitely stands out. On Sept. 8, chaos struck when the largest blackout in the region's history hit town and . With almost every gas station shut down, freeways packed, flights delayed, and people in fear of a terrorist attack, SDG&E had some explaining to do.
Not only did the company quickly hold a press conference to explain the situation, they also went straight to its Twitter page to provide information, answer questions, offer safety tips and more. I applaud SDG&E for utilizing this platform to communicate with the public in a timely manner. When disasters strike, some companies choose to hold off with making comments until they have a total understanding of the situation. However, SDG&E reached out immediately with the information that was available and promised updates as they became available. That is how a company should react to a crisis.
On the national level, there were many epic events that took center stage and a good majority of them also involved social media. These public relations and marketing moments rank as my top picks in 2011.
Penn State Football Scandal
Jerry Sandusky was indicted on 40 counts of sex crimes against young boys and was arrested on Nov. 5. Two administrators were charged with grand jury perjury and failure to report the incidences of which they had knowledge, and head Coach Joe Paterno was fired and heavily criticized for not reporting the incident to authorities. The public was upset with how the university responded during the crisis and believe they were slow in issuing statements.
In a USA Today article, Steve Manuel, a senior lecturer of public relations in Penn State’s College of Communications said, “This was a crisis in the making of at least three years. Penn State knew this shoe was going to drop, and it was not prepared.”
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter Mishap
On June 6, I posted an article on how social media can ruin your reputation and who better to prove my point than former Rep. Anthony Weiner. He claimed that his Twitter account was hacked and someone posted a photo of his private member on his account. Well, the truth finally came out and the world learned during a live press conference that he lied (shocker!). This was just another reminder that we should all understand how to use these platforms and the difference between a direct message (DM) and a public post. Weiner resigned from Congress on June 2.
Osama bin Laden’s Death Revealed via Twitter
It may come as a surprise to many that the first news of Osama bin Laden’s death was first announced on Twitter. Sohaib Athar who uses the Twitter handle @ReallyVirtual was live tweeting from outside the raid without really knowing it. The timeline of Athar’s tweets can be viewed on Mashable.
Charlie Sheen is Bi-Winning, Not Bipolar
It’s not news that the former Two and a Half Men star has had a few problems with drugs, alcohol and marital relations, but things really hit the fan in 2011. On Feb. 28, Sheen conducted an interview with Good Morning America that accentuated his erratic behavior. From this point, his career took off in another direction as he started a nationwide tour and set a new Guinness World Record for the "Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers” on Twitter. His growing bandwagon forced businesses to even jump on board to create marketing campaigns surrounding him.
Locally, the Padres minor-league team, Lake Elsinore Storm, hosted Charlie Sheen-co de Mayo day which drew record numbers and was one of the main reasons why the team won the Larry MacPhail , which honors promotional excellence. As crazy as Sheen might appear, he sure does know how to get people talking.
Employee Fired Over Chrysler Tweet
In March, a New Media Strategies employee accidentally published a post from Chrysler’s Twitter account (@ChryslerAutos) when they thought they were posting from their personal account. As a result, the employee was fired. The tweet read: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive.”
This is just another reminder that if your company has an outside firm handling its social media, make sure there is a policy in place. If your organization manages the accounts internally, it’s still very important to establish guidelines that are clearly communicated to all employees.
There you have it. Those are my picks for the "Top Five Public Relations and Marketing Moments of 2011."