Ghosts of Goof-ups Past


Screw up once, shame on who?
Screw up twice, shame on you.

Never any shortage of problems that threaten reputations. Nor any end in sight for the drama that goes with them.

Some are foisted upon people by events outside their control: Lawsuits by unhappy employees. Disputes with business partners and competitors. Scurrilous allegations published by equally scurrilous tabloid and celebrity-focused “news” outlets — online, on air, and in print.

Other times (too many, actually) they are of one’s own making. Bad case of foot-in-mouth. Stealing just a little because it seems harmless, then escalating to serious money. Believing shenanigans won’t be noticed, but inevitably they are.

2015 had its share. Here are some of the most memorable.

  • Volkswagen & Takata, caught lying and cheating. For one, it’s a serious black eye that tarnishes a reputation for quality and credibility. For the other, the ramifications raised questions about its survival.
  • Brian Williams & Rachel Dolezal, who played fast and loose with facts even though the truth was easily verifiable. One famously “conflated” experiences about the Iraq War and the hurricane in New Orleans. The other engaged in personal racial revisionism.
  • Hillary Clinton & Tom Brady, who sought to hide their digital footprints amid allegations of wrongdoing in emailgate and deflategate. One ordered her email server wiped clean, and the other had his assistant smash his cell phone that he used to send text messages.
  • U.S. Office of Personnel Management & Ashley Madison, which suffered network and cyber security breaches. OPM was huge (records of 21.5 million people were exposed). Ashley Madison attracted outsize attention because of the confidential nature of its business — arranging extra-marital affairs.

Will we get a respite in 2016? Unlikely.

Some people never learn. They may not make the same mistake, but will find new ways to get into trouble.

Even if those who suffered in 2015 keep their noses clean in the future, there are plenty of others waiting to take their place.


“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Prep. More than half a century of expertise working with clients to resolve issues both in and outside the media’s glare — in their professional and personal lives.

You can reach Roger Gillott and Eden Gillott Bowe directly at 310-396-8696.

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For a deeper glimpse into our world, see our book on Amazon, “A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR: Protecting Your Clients In & From the Media.”

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