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PR watchdog names Qantas grounding the biggest PR disaster of 2011

The Qantas grounding has been selected as 2011’s biggest PR disaster according to a public relations watchdog.

The PR blogsite PRdisasters.com and its author Gerry McCusker said the airline’s decision to ground its fleet was a “business decision that inconvenienced and angered a nation”.

Qantas managed three disasters in the top ten.

The airline placed second with the #QantasLuxury twitter promo in which it asked customers what luxury meant to them and resulted in a Twitter backlash; and fifth with the rugby-related black-face controversy, in which the airline awarded two fans tickets to the Bledisloe Cup for painting their face black like Wallaby player, Radike Samo.

It’s the second year in a row Qantas has topped PRDisaster.com’s list, securing the top spot in 2010 for its A380 emergency.

The airline also placed number 1 in Mumbrella’s social media controversies for #QantasLuxury.

The list was calculated by the online monitoring agency CyberChatter.

  1. Qantas grounding – business decision that inconvenienced and angered a nation
  2. Qantas luxury Tweet – poorly conceived Twitter promo which drew ire not idolising
  3. Brendan Fevola – termination of troubled star’s contract with Brisbane Lions
  4. Tony Abbott – mute, shaking-head TV interview freeze
  5. Qantas golliwog – social media promo, which catalysed a racial brouhaha
  6. Ricky Nixon – PR fallout from unseemly association with the St Kilda teen
  7. Larissa Behrendt – bitchy comments against Bess Price published on Twitter
  8. Kyle Sandilands – personal vendetta against a journo forced a humiliating apology
  9. Australian Defence Force – Cadet Skype-cam sex scandal
  10. Gasp Retail – bad customer service flowed from in-store to email; a PR 101 fail!

McCusker said: “The data suggests that microblog tool Twitter is most often used to vent anger at brands and personalities who get their PR wrong. And the most vocal Aussie critics appear to be those in the 25-34 age bracket, although over-50s were out in force against the Qantas grounding.”

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