2017: The Good, the Bad and the PR

Updated: Oct 28, 2018

It’s been quite a year for PR and Communications. From Poundland’s polarising Christmas social media campaign which sparked controversy this week to Bell Pottinger’s spectacular fall from grace earlier this year, I take a look back at the plethora of industry news to hit the headlines in 2017…

PR has enjoyed, or perhaps more accurately endured, more media coverage over the last 12 months than any other year in recent memory. Bell Pottinger put ethics in the spotlight back in September and kickstarted a much wider debate within the profession, prompting the industry to look introspectively at the professional standards it holds itself to.


As an individual story, it was probably the most talked about among practitioners but when it comes to a recurring trend, it was the public apology-gone-wrong that proved endemic in 2017 – whether it be United Airlines memorable talk of ‘re-accommodating’ one of its passengers or Kevin Spacey’s attempt to distract from allegations of sexual harassment by coming out as a gay man.


Apology-gate knew no bounds as brands also made somewhat of a fine art of ill-judged marketing campaigns, remember Dove’s whitewashing ad from a couple of months back? Or that time Pepsi tried to solve racial tensions with nothing but Kendall Jenner and a can of soft drink? Even Paperchase found itself in hot water after running a promotion with the Daily Mail, publishing a somewhat remarkable apology following a social media backlash from customers.


I appreciate this is starting to sound a little negative, but there have been plenty of good news stories over the past 12 months too – often at times when we’ve needed them most. A recent PR Week article showcased the truly amazing work of ‘blue light’ comms teams in the aftermath of UK terror attacks in London and Manchester earlier this year.


Communicating effectively and accurately in a crisis is no small feat at the best of times, but when a mass-casualty event lands on your doorstep, attempting to make sense of it is near unimaginable. It’s a testament, then, not only to the incredible professionalism of emergency service communicators across the country, but a timely reminder of the positive impact the industry has as a whole.


On a personal note, it’s also been a hugely rewarding year.


Following a placement in corporate communications, I made the switch from in-house to agency and I’d like to say a big thank you to some truly inspiring communicators (you know who you are) who I’ve had the pleasure of working with this year  – not to mention those of you who’ve been kind enough to stop by the site.


I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and I’ll be back in 2018 to celebrate a year of blogging with a special birthday post.

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© 2018 Claire Simpson​.