2018 In Review: PR Successes and Fails

At WildRock, our vision is to make our clients ridiculously happy. When it comes to public relations, we develop an extensive strategy to ensure their goals are met and that they’re getting the best coverage possible. We had huge successes this last year with our clients and we are looking forward to raising that bar even higher in 2019.

It goes without saying that while some PR strategies are hugely successful, others may take an unexpected turn and result in a PR nightmare. Let’s take a look at some national and international brands that experienced praise and scrutiny in 2019.

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Brilliant PR Wins:

  • Dominos Paving for Pizza: Pizza is a go-to food for millions of Americans. Whether people go to a sit-down restaurant or order for delivery, they have an abundance of options to choose from. Dominos saw this challenge and came up with a genius way to get their name ahead of its competitors. They launched their initiative in 2018 to pave potholes and improve the communities of consumers who have pizza delivered to their homes. This showed the company’s social conscience and their creative efforts to improve their customer’s experience. By providing their customers with tasty pizza along with removing potholes that are nuisances in their neighborhoods, they ended 2018 on a high note and established themselves as a force to be reckoned with!
  • Starbucks’ Damage Control: Here’s the backstory; There were two African-American men who sat at a Starbucks store without ordering any food or drinks. They asked to use the restroom while they waited for a friend to arrive that they were meeting at that location. The situation escalated and resulted in the two men being arrested by the local authorities. While this was initially negative PR for Starbucks, they handled the situation boldly by closing all 8,000 of their stores in the United States for a day to conduct anti-bias training. In the eyes of the public, this is a win seeing as Starbucks was transparent about the instance, exhibited leadership and took immediate action to prevent a situation like this from happening in the future.

Painful PR Losses:

  • The Infamous iHob: In case you missed the excitement, in 2018, IHOP announced it was changing its name and expanding its burger offerings on the menu, resulting in them flipping the “P” upside down to make it iHob. Then, just kidding! The company reassured the pancake-lovers that the name change was merely a promotion for its new line of burgers. On one side, this could be seen as a PR success because it got so many people talking and asking questions about the sudden switch. On the other hand, it ended in a flop seeing as the campaign didn’t result in increased traffic. Not to mention, other fast food companies jumped at the opportunity to scrutinize IHOP on social media, take a look.


  • UPS Letters to Santa: Humor in the social media world is a tricky thing to master. In this day and age, brands are taking more risks and playing on the edgier side to get customers’ attention and stand out from the crowd. UPS took a major risk with humor around the holidays by posting this tweet:

While UPS was trying to find a way to get people looking and paying attention to their brand, parents were not amused. People took to Twitter to express their frustration and disappointment, going as far as calling UPS the “Grinch.” UPS never released a statement following the incident but they did delete the post shortly after the backlash began.

We are here to make sure that your PR efforts are successful and celebrated. If you’re ready to ramp up your brand this year, let’s get started!!