Marmageddon was a coup, an insurance company sponsorship of
the sacred All Blacks jersey was a near-miss, while the
Government was on a hiding to nothing with controversial
changes to the education sector.
The stories have featured in one public relations company's
list of the 12 toughest PR jobs of 2012.
Wellington-based BlacklandPR has assessed which high-profile
events this year faced the biggest challenges and director
Mark Blackham said it was no surprise Government matters
dominated the list.
''With each one we looked at what factors were in play and
what are most complicated and most difficult to deal with -
and Government seems to hit the wall every time.''
The class size debacle and the plan to close Christchurch
schools were always going to hit a nerve.
Mr Blackham said people had a strong emotional reaction to
''Because they have kids and their kids go to school every
day so it's part of their lives ... So you put that stuff in
there and you have a very tough PR challenge.''
Some events, such as the Christchurch central city rebuild,
had to happen and were always going to run into opposition.
''Sometimes in PR you say to your clients, `Do you really
want to do this?' and they do, so you have some modifying to
do because there's no way stopping this being a PR disaster.
But for them, they just have to do it'' Mr Blackham said
However, AIG's sponsorship of the All Blacks was ''textbook''
''I think from the outside looking at it, they got the job
done. It was a fairly textbook-style announcement with
talking about people's possible concerns [and] putting it in
context - which is one of the biggest challenges in PR -
saying, `This is the world we live in now; you might not like
it but you can't argue from that basis.' They did that
He said it was hard to predict how a story would run.
''When you have a large mix of people involved they can get
pulled in all sorts of ways that PR people can't stop from
Fleur Revell, managing director of Impact PR, said the
Government ''never had a shot'' at selling the class size
plan, because of the number of educational experts who
''To effectively communicate a restructure in an emotionally
charged environment, it needs to be adequately sold to those
concerned - in such a way that stakeholders can understand
these changes are either an absolute necessity or the changes
will result in a benefit where you will be at least as well
off as you are now.''
Ms Revell felt that was where most of the damage was done.
''These well-versed groups were able to ensure their messages
were heard throughout the media and put considerable pressure
on the minister, forcing the Government to back down.''
In terms of crisis management, when something went wrong it
was best to tell the truth quickly and move on, she said.
Brand Strategist Wayne Attwell said it would be interesting
to see what effect the AIG sponsorship would have on the All
Blacks brand in a few years time because he felt it diluted
But he felt the Marmite shortage was a ''great opportunity''
that used a legitimate shortage as a brand exercise that also
''We have these anecdotal stories of people hoarding and
selling ... so the company has used the opportunity well to
reinforce their brand.''
Toughest PR jobs
1. Government: Plan for schools in Christchurch
2. Government: Class size increase plan
3. Government: Introduction of the Christchurch Central
4. Government Communications Security Bureau: Kim
5. Solid Energy: Job cut announcement
6. Ports of Auckland: Strike
7. Fonterra: Trading Among Farmers scheme
8. ANZ-National: Merger day
9. Wheedle: Launch day
10. Government: Report on Pike River
11. Sanitarium: Continued non-production of Marmite
12. All Blacks: Inclusion of AIG as sponsor.