Tim Youngman - My favourite moment of 2012? How not to manage a PR crisis by Google, Amazon and Starbucks

As another Christmas rushes towards us and before we have had our fill of excessive gluttony and Morecambe and Wise repeats a brand New Year will be upon us.

So before I take my decorations down, cry hootenanny and think about returning to work again I wanted to use this last column of 2012 to remind you all of what a very good year 2012 has been for marketing.

To start with a great lesson in life is to learn from your own and especially others mistakes and there have been some real beauties this year.

My favourite lesson in reputation management and the need for proper understanding of the art that is public relations came from Starbucks.

The corporate tax avoidance scandal centred on three companies; Amazon, Google and Starbucks but its is Starbucks that has taken the bulk of the flak in column inches.

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I am totally convinced that within a couple of years this will be used by lecturers to students as a case study in how not to manage a PR crisis which is not a bad thing.

Social media, if done correctly, can be an amazing asset for a brand.

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Done badly it can create huge headaches and of course its often brought about by the brands themselves. You cannot help what people say about you, and social media gives people a forum to do that in public like no other. However actually asking your twitter followers to complete the sentence 'I shop at Waitrose because…#WaitroseReasons' is asking for trouble and funnily enough that is what they got.

So if they were my favourite mistakes, my highlights were nothing short of spectacular.

To start it has to be the London Olympics and brand GB.

Before the games, we pessimistic Brits were rightly concerned how successful it would be. However within 10 minutes of the opening ceremony it was clear that the next month of Olympics and Paralympics showed us and the world that the UK not only can put on a worldwide event but can lead in fields as diverse as engineering, creativity and of course marketing and sponsorship.

My top highlight though was a man who thought it would be a really good idea to get carried 23 miles into space in a capsule and then jump out.

What Felix Baumgartner did was quite incredible but what Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz did in my mind was almost equally impressive.

This was something that could have gone very, very wrong.

However in the end, more than eight million people around the world watched Felix jump.

This was followed by countless column inches and hours of television coverage let alone the millions of comments on social media all mentioning 'Red Bull Stratos'. For an investment of a few million, the marketing coverage this generated has been estimated in the tens of millions.

It has indelibly linked the brand in the mind of a generation and set a new level of what can be achieved with a marketing event. Exactly how the founder Mateschitz and his marketing team had planned.

So 2012 had its highs and its lows but its highs way outweighed the lows.

We can only look forward to 2013 and what a new year will bring. Happy Christmas readers!

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant follow him @timyoungman

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