PR Lesson: How Poor Planning Can Add Fuel to the Fire

by Brittany Bevacqua on June 1, 2012

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Both national and NY-based media went on an extended sugar high after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to ban the sale of sweetened drinks bigger than 16-ounces. As someone who tries to live a fairly healthy lifestyle, I can’t say that the idea of doing away with enormous sugar-filled drinks rubbed me the wrong way as much as Bloomberg’s poor planning did. Just hours after he proclaimed his anti-liquid sugar crusade, Bloomberg then offered his support for National Donut Day. Huh?

Talk about a mixed message. Not only did the ban have its critics to begin with, Bloomberg made the unfortunate move of adding fuel to the fire with his somewhat contradictory “thumbs up” for the high calorie, high fat and high sugar breakfast pastry. The media was apparently just as confused as I was, courtesy of today’s headlines:

At the core of Bloomberg’s ban is an important message about improving public health and educating consumers about the way non-nutritious foods cause harm – both short- and long-term — to our bodies. Unfortunately for Bloomberg, those messages fell flat.

Out of this misstep comes an important lesson, one that we come across time and time again in the PR world. Timing is everything and in order to get a successful result, we must evaluate all scenarios that could cause our messages or news to be muddled, misrepresented, or just plain missed all together.

What did you think of Bloomberg’s announcement? Will the timing make a significant difference in getting public support for the ban in the long-run? Did the added media attention more quickly bring the story to the national stage?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Davina K. Brewer 06.08.12 at 11:51 am

Goes to show PR is more about the hot button issues or any one market segment; soda sellers are the only purveyors of sugar in NYC — you can’t pick and choose. It’s a very mixed message and as you say, poorly planned — knowing they’re about the promo National Donut Day? Even had the time been shifted, I think a savvy observer would have caught the double standard, and yes it weakens an important message. FWIW.

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