By Alex Altman
There’s no way to spin it: 2017 was a bad year for PR.
Over the last 12 months, seemingly every corporation, celebrity, congressman and TV network in America has found itself in hot water for one reason or another. But there were some incredible PR wins, too, many occurring this summer, when corporate generosity was needed more than ever following the spate of natural disasters that rocked Texas, Puerto Rico and other parts of the country.
These are the stories I’d like to focus on as the year comes to an end.
Amazon: While Amazon’s $13.7 billion agreement to acquire Whole Foods was met with mixed reaction, its presence in the news cycle has been mostly positive. Prime subscriptions continue to rise, and anticipation about its plans to build a second headquarters somewhere in North America has yielded a wealth of coverage.
Coca-Cola: While Pepsi was still dealing with the backlash from its Hall of Shame commercial, Coca-Cola was donating millions to disaster relief efforts, and collecting scores of positive headlines in the process. For a company whose chief product is linked to some pretty ugly health concerns, it’s amazing how Coca-Cola always seems to be portrayed in a positive light.
Gallery Furniture: Few companies, regardless of size, scored more positive press this year than this regional furniture store. Owner Mattress Mack became a household name when he turned his stores into shelters for victims of Hurricane Harvey, and then a bona fide celebrity when he essentially gave away $10 million worth of merchandise in a World Series promotion.
NBA: While NFL ratings tumble — a trend this blog saw coming more than a year ago — the NBA is firing on all cylinders. Innovative leadership, marquee teams and a wealth of marketable young players have fans and financial forecasters feeling extremely bullish about the league’s future, and for good reason.
Lyft: After its chief rival, Uber, was killed on social media for its unfavorable reaction to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, Lyft seized the moment by donating $1 million to the ACLU. The move was lauded by Millennials and helped Lyft’s customer base surge by 7% in less than two months.
Wendy’s: Carter Wilkerson, 16, was hungry. So he asked Wendy’s on Twitter, “How many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?” Wendy’s response: 18 million. Carter didn’t quite get there. But when the tweet reached a record-breaking 3.43 million retweets, Wendy’s gave him free chicken nuggets for a year anyway. A small price for the most successful (accidental) social media campaign ever.