Tony Abbott shirtfronts his way into topping 2014 PR Disaster Awards

Following a year of public relations catastrophes, Prime Minister Tony Abbott receives an award he may not want to claim.


The PM’s ‘winkgate’ and ‘shirtfront’ nightmares have helped him take out the number one spot of 2014’s biggest PR Disasters, publicity blunders and media mis-steps.

After 12 months of assessing traditional and online media (including social), by monitoring statistics and trends on sustained, negative media mentions, spin doctor watchdog and blogsite awarded him prime position.

The Australian PR Disaster Awards, now in their ninth year, aim to highlight the worst examples of business, celebrity, government, media and sports PR ‘cock-ups’.

The Liberal Party has much to celebrate with ministers Joe Hockey and Scott Morrison making the cut. Sadly, Mr Hockey fell a few short of the PM, taking out fourth place for his attempt to win Australians over by saying “poor people don’t drive cars”, so they will not be impacted by the planned fuel tax increase.

NRL’s Greg Bird and Todd Carney are representing the league for their inability to find a bathroom. In separate incidents, both Bird and Carney publically urinated their way into the top ten.

Another great Australian ambassador Blake Garvey, from reality TV show The Bachelor made the top ten. His national reputation-ripping romantic disasters saw him take home the bronze.

Qualifying for one of these awards is not easy.The brand person or business at the centre of the story or incident must have continual negative media coverage over a period of time.


Australia’s Top 10 PR Disasters of 2014

1. Tony Abbott

Mainstream and social media platforms erupted after the PM’s now-infamous wink at an ABC radio host while taking a call from a sex-line working pensioner. Next, he took things to the street by threatening to ‘shirtfront’ Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Congratulations on taking out the number one place.


2. Malaysia Airlines

The airline received heavy criticism due to the lack of clarity, speed and efficiency in handling crisis information and assistance over the still-missing flight MH370.


3. Blake Garvey/The Bachelor

Dumping fiancee Sam Frost only weeks after proposing to her on the show’s finale created a media frenzy. Garvey was ridiculed for dating the show’s runner-up contestant shortly after his breakup with Frost.


4. Joe Hockey

Joe Hockey for his attempt to win voters over about the fuel tax increase by saying “poor people don’t drive cars”, effectively driving his reputation into the ditch.


5. Rolf Harris

The discovery that the Aussie entertainer had preyed on young girls while his career was at its peak instantly turned the once well-regarded Rolf into the much-reviled Rolf.


6. Scott Morrison

Secrecy surrounding Operation Sovereign Borders and the ‘on water matters’ policy was damaging to Morrison. Restricting information regarding the policing of Australian waters in an attempt to limit media coverage sparked backlash from media and citizens.


7. Palmer United Party

Clive and PUP continued to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. Clive’s series of disastrous media interviews followed by the internal squabbling, fraud investigations and PUP Senator Lambie quitting the party.


8. Greg Bird

Following his wedding, The Gold Coast Titans’ co-captain was caught and charged with  urinating on or near a police car, sending the NRL stars reputation down the gutter.


9. Todd Carney

Photos of ex-rugby star started ‘bubbling up’ across social media. The controversial images of Carney self-hydrating went viral across social media.


10. Packer Gyngell Brawl

Nothing creates a media frenzy than two of Sydney’s most recognisable media heavyweights street-fighting in Bondi.


BY Sarah Aquilina ON 12 January 2015