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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

 

TOM CRUISE TOPS A-N-O-T-H-E-R LOSER LIST

Tom Cruise, Pat Robertson, Even Harvard Seems Clueless, on List of 10 Worst PR Gaffes in 2005

11th Annual PR Blunders List Unveiled SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A celebrity without a center, religious fundamentalism U.S. style, organized labor taking on the Marines and a not so beneficent employee benefits company, all highlight this year's list of public relations blunders compiled annually by San Francisco's Fineman PR. The list is a collection of some of the year's worst public relations gaffes. The "winners" for 2005:

1. CRUISE, OUT-OF-CONTROL

Tom Cruise's "War of the Worlds" press tour blew up on the "Today" show after he got on his Scientology soap box and lit into host Matt Lauer. Cruise's diatribe against psychiatry included criticizing Brooke Shields for the medication she received during her post-pregnancy depression. The press jumped all over Cruise, and so did Shields. In a New York Times op-ed, Shields called his remarks "a disservice to mothers everywhere." Cruise's other bizarre antics in '05, including Oprah Winfrey's sofa jumping escapade to show his love for actress Katie Holmes, also earned him public ridicule. "Sure they're in Love --- with Publicity," headlined the Boston Globe. PR Week said, "The more you jump up and down about it, the less people believe it's the real thing."

2. PAT ROBERTSON'S DIPLOMACY

Uncle Sam's relations with oil rich Venezuela worsened after televangelist Pat Robertson suggested the U.S. 'take out' its president Hugo Chavez. The rather un-Christian comments ignited fire and brimstone from the world's press and lent credibility to Chavez' contention that President Bush, somewhat of an evangelical in his own right, is out to get him. "He is that rare preacher who has invited the nation not to pray together, but to prey together," wrote Tom Teepen in the San Jose Mercury News.

3. UAW UNWELCOMES MARINES

Organized labor is having enough trouble without alienating the U.S. Marines. United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger barred Marine reservists from its parking lot if they drove foreign-made cars or sport pro-Bush bumper stickers. The Marines had parked there for years because they train nearby. Gettelfinger apologized for the unpatriotic ambush after the Michigan press played the story, but the Marines said they would find alternative parking. "In trying to stiff the Marines, the union signaled that its petty political concerns trump the needs of the armed forces and the sanctity of the voting booth," wrote Daniel Howes in the Detroit News.

4. NO BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT FROM BENEFIT MANAGEMENT COMPANY

It appears that Michigan employee-benefits firm Benefit Management Administrators Inc. needs help managing its own employees. The company fired Suzette Boler for, among other things, taking too much time to say good-bye to her husband who left to fight in Iraq, according to an Associated Press story. The poorly timed pink slip fueled public outrage forcing the company to lock its doors and turn off its phones. When the company's founder responded to TV station Channel 8 in Grand Rapids, he compounded the blunder by pressing additional complaints against her to justify the firing.

5. HARVARD'S SUMMERS STORM

Publicly expressing sentiments that women are not good at math and science is not the kind of stereotyping you might expect from Harvard. So when Harvard's president, Larry Summers, said gender differences are why fewer women than men excel in those areas, the school's outraged faculty and alumni called for his ouster. According to Business Week, "his remarks about women may make it hard for Harvard to recruit top female scientists," and "harm fund-raising" for much needed reforms.

See the website for the full list


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