The biggest PR wins and fails of 2018

From a cricket scandal to outrage over the placement of Bunnings' onions, 2018 certainly had some unique PR moments. Here, InsideOut PR's Nicole Reaney takes a look back at some of the biggest wins and fails of the year.

From fails to fortune, 2018 has seen its fair share of organisations dominate the headlines. Here’s a rundown of what made news this year.

Cricket scandal

The year commenced with the blatant cricket cheating scandal that caused a global media storm. With players and the sport impacted, and an independent review revealing a ‘winning at all costs mentality’ a major rebuild of the culture of cricket is needed to rebuild public trust and connection with the sport and players.

Ban the Bag

Coles and Woolworths faced public backlash in the attempt to minimise environmental impacts with the elimination of single use plastic bags. The transition was clumsy and underprepared leading to frustrated consumers and negative press. Major change programmes require significant customer support and communication preceding a significant shift to consumer habits.

Facebook Data Breach

Facebook has long-held a positive reputation in the global market it operates. Reportedly affecting over 30 million people, the impact has shattered the brand with hackers having access to personal information. Media headlines mid-year revealed Facebook’s value plummeted by $120 billion. Time, stringent security protocol and reputational repair is in order.

Strawberry crisis

Amidst peak season, a needle was discovered in a strawberry that led to significant wastage, public health in question, major consumer fear and financial losses. With the perpetrator now identified and charged, some peace of mind has been restored. However, the lack of comfort and consumer information at store level dug a deeper pocket of mistrust.

University of Adelaide

With its mansplaining billboard, the University of Adelaide attracted adverse media attention. The university quickly cut ties in its involvement to the ad in an attempt to restore its image.

PR brand wins

While the campaign commenced with public scrutiny due to its launch around Ban the Bag and some consumers remaining opposed, the collectables initiative reportedly enabled involved brands see a 30% lift in sales. A cult following and market swaps and buys created huge engagement and following for the pint-sized products.

Cathay Pacific

You had one job! Just when you thought someone might have lost their job over the blatant misspelling of the brand name, the media exposure generated led to social sharing, reach and brand appeal.

New York Library

The revered library caught the attention of media when it announced it would lend job seekers with a library card clothing accessories like ties and handbags, to help give them a professional edge and support their quest in employment.


The brand prevented a potential uproar that originated with careful observation of an eight-year-old girl that questioned the absence of girls on the back of the pack. Commencing with its dictated customer reply, the brand took the request to heart with the announcement it would change its packaging to reflect its inclusive culture in 2019.


The humble sausage sanga made major headlines and contributed to a national debate with its intention to enforce a calculated positioning of the onion on all sandwiches. The positive and negative sentiment towards the move with key media outlets joining the conversation has no doubt enabled a positive media opportunity for the retailer standing by its safety policy.

Nicole Reaney is director of InsideOut PR.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.