Here's the venerable annual list of San Francisco-based Fineman PR, "Top 10 PR Blunders of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
6. All the News Money Can Buy. The U.S. military's Washington, D.C.-based communications subcontractor in Iraq has been secretly paying newspapers to run positive "news" articles in an attempt to polish the coalition's image, denounce insurgents and praise U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.
7. Grand Theft Auto's Undercover Addition. As if best selling video game "Grand Theft Auto, San Andreas" didn't have enough violence and debauchery already, its maker Rockstar Games added hidden animated sex scenes.
8. Merck's Pain. Hiding the risks associated with taking its painkiller Vioxx could cause Merck an $18 billion litigation heartache.
9. Snapple's Meltdown. It was the first day of summer in steamy New York, so Snapple put a 35,000-pound ice pop in the middle of Union Square at midday. When the 25-foot high ice sculpture melted, bicyclists wiped out in the stream of kiwi-strawberry goo.
10. Natl. Academy of Sciences Publishes How-To for Milk Terror. When Lawrence M. Wein and Yifan Liu of Stanford University wrote a scientific article discussing how terrorists could poison thousands of people by releasing toxins into the U.S. milk supply, the National Academy of Sciences published it over the objections of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Scott Baradell is CEO of the unified PR and marketing agency Idea Grove, one of the top 25 technology PR firms in the United States. His first book,
Trust Signals, is scheduled for publication in 2021.