The PR Losers of 2006

Hewlett-Packard: The boardroom spying scandal cost Chairwoman Patricia Dunn her job and the company its prestige. The term “HP Way” has taken on a whole new meaning as a result.

President George W. Bush: Opinion Research Corp. released a report this week showing that the President’s approval rating is 36%. ‘Nuff said.

Terrell Owens: Few figures in modern sports history have brought themselves so much negative media attention. If Owens was a politician, he would have been impeached long ago.

The Coal Industry: 2005 was a banner year for coal,thanks to historically high prices. 2006 turned out to be a horrible year for the industry as prices moderated, accidents took the lives of workers, and big-time investors battled coal company management.

Vice President Dick Cheney: After the VP accidentally shot a hunting companion things only got worse for him and his administration buddies.

Donald Rumsfeld: Though not an elected official, the elections cost him his job.

Sony: Massive laptop battery recall hurt the electronics giant as it prepared to unleash PlayStation 3.

Floyd Landis: Little-known American wins Tour de France and was promptly accused of doping. An unfortunate year was capped off with hip-replacement surgery.

Mark Foley: The Florida Congressman resigned five weeks before the election after he admitted to inappropriate behavior towards teen pages. Foley ruined his career and brought shame to the Republican Party.

Senator John Kerry: Insulting the intelligence of the men and women who protect a nation is disturbing, especially when it comes out of the mouth of a veteran.

Senator George Allen: Some pundits saw Allen running for President in 2008. After one of the worst-run campaigns on record, Allen is looking for a job.

Ted Haggard: The evangelical preacher proved to be a hypocrite and his misleading statements to the public and press did little to win him sympathy when he finally admitted his errors.

U.S. Auto Industry: General Motors and Ford spent the entire year on the defensive. GM dealt with a nasty shareholder revolt, while both companies continue to deal with slowing sales and a media intent on reminding the public of their inferior products.

The Big Dig: America’s longest-running joke was completed earlier in the year at a cost of almost 5X original estimates. The public works project that was supposed to ease traffic in Boston turned into a nightmare, and shoddy work cost one woman her life.

Jacob Alexander: The former CEO of Comverse Technology fled the country after being charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and making false filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Though fighting extradition, finding anyone sympathetic to his cause will be difficult.

Pick a Company, Any Company: Well, not any company, but about 150 publicly traded companies have been caught up in a stock option backdating scandal. CNET Networks, Apple Computer, UnitedHealth, McAfee and Home Depot are just some of the tarnished names.

Mel Gibson: It’s doubtful that the actor/director was invited to any Hanukkah parties this year.

Judith Regan: Like Gibson, she won’t be the lighting the menorah with many folks this season. Her decision to publish a book by O.J. Simpson may go down as one of the biggest publishing blunders ever – even though the book never made it onto shelves.

James Frey: Making friends with Oprah is huge for anyone in the entertainment business. Making her mad is perhaps the worst thing you can do.

Michael Richards: He went from a lovable goofball to a loudmouthed racist. Good luck finding a gig.

Hedge Funds: The blow-up of Amaranth Capital shed light on the potential problems that can hit hedge funds. Now, the SEC is pushing for tighter regulation.

This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (, a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

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