Firm Shui (A Fancy Way We Say "Blog")

Three recent PR Crises to learn from

Unsplash / Markus Winkler

Between inflation rates, political infighting, wars and social media mishaps, the last few years have been incredibly hectic. With all of this, it is important to look back and learn from the various scenarios and mistakes of others so that we can all be cognizant when treading the path behind them.

Here are three PR-esque situations that caught our attention that may provide a valuable lesson or three:

The Ticketmaster turn-off

Ticketmaster has long been the entity that fans of music, sports or festivals needed to turn to in order to get a ticket for an upcoming event. They were a safe, trustworthy option for fans to gain entry into their night-out of choice. As time has gone by, Ticketmaster has slowly become the object of ire due to predatory pricing tactics and buggy ticketing debacles. It all came to a head with mega-star Taylor Swift’s most recent concert tour when fans decided to serve an antitrust lawsuit to the ticketing giant. While Ticketmaster did win in court, public opinion towards the company is less than favorable. At this point, the relationship between Ticketmaster and their audience is deteriorating, and it would take some incredibly smart PR moves to rebuild their public image and rebound from the fiascos of the prior year.

Here’s what our PR experts have to say: This is not the first and certainly won’t be the last crisis that Ticketmaster has to navigate. It’s all about knowing the possible crises going into a scenario and mitigating the possible fallout via strong systems and meaningful messaging, even in situations where people may not be happy regardless of your efforts. Transparency is also key in not leaving things to fine print.

Etihad’s unsustainable greenwashing

Etihad Airways, one of two national airlines of the United Arab Emirates, has faced repercussions in early 2023 due to their false advertisement of “net zero emissions by 2050” next to their logo in 2 advertisements. In the UK, the advertisements were banned for greenwashing, and Flight Free Australia claimed that the ads convey the false impression that flying with Etihad has reasonable plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, while having no veritable path to achieving such a result. Consumers are increasingly concerned about airline emissions and the subsequent response of climate change and show consistent positivity towards airlines that have made good on their pledge to lower emissions. With Etihad Airways caught red-handed on making false promises, only time will tell if conscious consumers will turn a deaf ear towards PR moves that might help them make a rebound.

Here’s what our PR experts have to say: You have to own it when you get busted – plain and simple. If a company is genuine in its commitments and promises, there will be other opportunities to showcase its efforts and hopefully move past a poor decision or mistake.

The FIFA Men’s World Cup & Qatar

The FIFA World Cup initially seemed like a boon to the country of Qatar and FIFA both, but it eventually devolved into a bane for FIFA, who had to deal with the backlash of fans who disagreed with the country’s humanitarian issues. To the discomfort of many, FIFA’s former head called the selection of Qatar as a World Cup host a mistake. When the tournament was close to being underway, various insensitive and homophobic remarks by Qatar officials spelled tons of trouble for FIFA. Qatari officials notified FIFA audiences that they would have to accept Qatar’s rules and culture, which caused many fans worldwide to be fearful of Qatar’s patriarchal system. While FIFA did its best to put out statements ensuring the fans that they would be safe in Qatar, the damage was done. This PR move by FIFA taught us that it’s important to be careful and concise with choosing partners, especially if it’s an impactful, long-term project.

Here’s what our PR experts have to say: Ensure that the image you are putting out there from a PR perspective aligns with what the “man on the street” – with a camera, social media platform and more – experiences. Also, from an organizational standpoint – in this case, FIFA – know what you are getting into, know when you are making a gamble with a partnership and prepare for what may be ahead.

Do you need a team of precise, mindful, and skilled PR professionals? We’ll help you stay one step ahead of PR no-nos and prospective crises. Contact The Firm Public Relations & Marketing today at or 702.739.9933.

Thumbs up

The Firm has been a great partner and collaborator with us, as we look to inform and educate our community regarding the resources and outcomes that we can offer to those we serve, often the most vulnerable in our midst. The Firm brings competency, compassion and a sense of urgency to the table, and I couldn’t be more pleased with having them on our team.

Deacon Thomas RobertsPresident & CEOCatholic Charities of Southern Nevada