QANTAS will surely be happy to see the back of 2010, a year in which the company line became ‘damage control’. The embattled airline, once a beacon of safety, professionalism and national pride, took a hammering this year and never seemed to be out of the news for all the wrong reasons, but it can end the year in celebration – it has won an award.

QANTAS has taken out the top spot on a list of Australia’s top 10 PR disasters.

The Awards highlights the worst examples of business, celebrity, government, media and sports gaffes. The Qantas A380 engine blast took out the top spot on the list, with stiff competition provided by the Commonwealth bank, politicians and sports clubs.

Gerry McCusker, author of ‘Talespin: PR Disasters, Inside Stories and Lessons Learnt’ created the “Awards”, created the awards and this year partnered with Bree Dwyer from online and social media monitoring agency Cyber Chatter to run, analyse and calculate Australias biggest PR blunders using Alterian SM2 technology.

“Using our online and social media tracking technology, we’ve looked at the amount of online conversations relating to these events and the tone of those conversations, said Bree Dwyer of Cyber Chatter. “This has allowed us to accurately gauge the impact of these PR disasters on the public perception of these brands.”

To qualify as a PR disaster, the incident must catalyse sustained, negative media coverage for the brand, business or person at the centre of the story.

Australias Top 10 PR Disasters for 2010:

1. Qantas – A380 fleet consecutive engine issues and passenger delays

2. Commonwealth Bank – premium interest rate hikes

3. Labor Party – corporate backlash against the proposed super tax

4. Melbourne Storm – salary cap scandal

5. Stephanie Rice – homophobic comments posted via Twitter

6. Canberra Raiders – Joel Monaghan dog sex photo

7. Virgin Blue – reservations and check-in system crash

8. Matthew Newton – after alleged assault of then partner Rachel Taylor in Italy

9. David Jones – CEO sexual assault scandal

10. Lara Bingle – media relations following split with Michael Clarke