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We have all done it, accidentally mistyping or rushing our latest tweet resulting in a few hundred followers receiving a half finished, incomprehensible tweet. This may have left a little egg on our face but it could have been a whole lot worse.

There have been some seriously epic social media PR fails over the years and we have found the very best and complied our top 6 just for you.

McDonald’s and their #McDStories Campaign 

Hashtags can be incredibly effective when used correctly but as McDonald’s learnt, you cannot control them. Once you release a hashtag it is out there for the social world to see, so do one thing – get it right. If the masses choose to, they can hijack a hashtag any time they want.

So when the fast food giant put out the #McDStories hashtag the idea was to promote the quality of its suppliers but unfortunately, that did not go to plan. Instead, people used the hashtag to share their less than positive experiences of their visit to McDonalds. Not what they had in mind!

Certainly not what McDonald’s were after and their social media manager later came out saying “Within an hour of pulling #McDStories the number of conversations about it fell off from a peak of 1600 to a few dozen. It is also important to keep those numbers in perspective. There were 72,788 mentions of McDonald’s overall that day so the traction of #McDStories was a tiny percentage (2%) of that.”

That’s all well and good… But it still happened and the proof is still there.

US Airways and that Unfortunate Photo

In April 2014, the US Airways accidentally sent out the worst tweet fail you will ever see. In fact, it was so bad that the tweet no longer exists at the image in question would be a little too extreme for the DM Pilot blog.

This PR crisis started innocently with a frustrated customer tweeting about flight delays which of course happens with most airline companies. US Airways responded with an apology tweet but then the customer turned up the ante with several more complaint tweets.

What happened next, no one could have predicted. The airline came back with a ‘we-welcome-your-feedback’ tweet but with a staggering hardcore porn pic attached. It was deeply offensive and, rather incredibly, it remained live for a whole hour.

The airways did not fire the employee responsible for the tweet – after all it was just a mistake, but a pretty big one!


We apologize for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating.

Rita Ora and her Over-Optimism (and Egotism)

Rita Ora suffered serious social media humiliation in 2014 with her audacious attempt to engage with her fans. With over 4 million followers at the time, you’d think that shouldn’t be too much of a challenge!

Rita tweeted that she would release her new single on the following Monday if she were to get 100,000 retweets. Sadly for the pop princess, only 1,000 people retweeted her. She quickly deleted her original tweet. That’s surely got to be a dent for her ego?

Susan Boyle and Another Hashtag Error

Yes, this one has certainly done the rounds when it comes to the top PR fails on social media of all time. What sounded like a great marketing campaign was obviously not thought through by Susan and her PR team. In trying to promote her new album, Standing Ovation, the idea was to release a hashtag that would promote “Susan album party”.

However, this did not go to plan with the release of #susanalbumparty as the hashtag (read it a few times and you will see the error).

The singer’s PR team declined to comment and deleted the tweet very quickly. Not quickly enough for us to see it though. However, some have come out to say it was a stunt all along to pick up press that they may otherwise not have got. If that was the case then it’s genius.

Waitrose and “I shop at Waitrose Because…”

Supermarket giant Waitrose suffered the wrath of social media when asking customers to finish their tweet “I shop at Waitrose because…”

The marketing team were of course expecting lots of nice positive tweets filling their feed, but instead, were met with quite the opposite. Sarcasm. But does that mean this was a PR fail? Or was it a carefully orchestrated plan to get more and more people talking on Twitter about Waitrose? Even today, people are using the “I shop at Waitrose because…” phrase. 

Here’s our pick of some of the funniest responses: 

Light-hearted. Sarcastic. But lots of mentions of the Waitrose ban. Do you think it was a PR fail or a clever marketing ploy?

Blackberry and their iPhone Promotion

The last thing any business wants to do is to tell the world that they are using their competitors’ products. Unfortunately, Blackberry made this mistake in the most dramatic of ways.

The team at Blackberry did not do their research and failed to realise that the wonderful people at Twitter send out a little notice identifying the device you are tweeting on if you view the tweet in some Twitter clients such as TweetDeck and TweetBot. 


We’ve listed our six most entertaining PR disasters above and there were plenty of other contenders of course. We want to hear your favourite PR disasters below so get sharing: