Top 10 PR Blunders of 2015

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 28:  Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush holds a meet and greet at Ch
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 28: Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush holds a meet and greet at Chico's Restaurant on December 28, 2015 in Hialeah, Florida. (Photo by Johnny Louis/FilmMagic)

Attention all schadenfreude enthusiasts, it's time to take a look back and see who really shined in this year's public relations blunders, bloopers and boners (trademark pending):

Dishonorable mentions

What better place to start out than with Donald Trump? For his campaign announcement, which included a slow, ridiculous ride down an escalator in NYC's Trump Tower, the hair-challenged candidate hired fake supporters to fill the room... just like that daytime talkshow that is sure to fail after six weeks. We all should have seen the sh*tstorm coming.

A bunch of cadets at The Citadel thought it would be funny to do a skit dressed up in pillowcases resembling KKK hoods. Their suspension was probably just as hilarious.

The Environmental Protection Agency accidentally turned a river in Colorado toxic and orange, operating in the exact opposite direction of its mission statement. This is the second time in three years that I've written about this agency, which is not good for anybody.

The Hillary Clinton campaign literally roped off reporters as they moved along with a parade that featured Madame Secretary. "Terrible optics" is putting it mildly.

General Motors' crack PR shop crafted a press release with nothing but emojis, which gave me a headache when I tried to decipher it. The automaker sent out a Rosetta stone release to the press the following day, so you know, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Washington Nationals printed up its 2016 team calendar with a cover photo of Boston's Fenway Park. Seriously. As I try to comprehend how that could happen, I'm still waiting to hear if the Nats are gonna dump Jonathan Papelbon for choking Bryce Harper, the National League MVP and hero to a zillion young baseball fans. In other Major League Baseball news, the Mets' Wilmer Flores broke out in tears - during a game - upon hearing that he was going to be traded. A sensitive moment yes, but as everybody knows, there is no crying in baseball.

...And a quick word about Twitter Q&As: Don't. Ask Trump, Bobby Jindal and E.L. James how theirs went. BTW, clicking on those links is HIGHLY recommended.

OK, enough of the kids' table... on to the main stage!

10. Not a good way to impress the boss.

Alaska Airlines managed to lose the luggage of its CEO, Bradley Tilden, on a flight to an airline summit in Washington, D.C. And it wasn't the first time.

Ironically, the air carrier offers a guarantee to get passengers' bags to them within 20 minutes of reaching the gate or it will pony up a $25 credit toward a future flight or 2,500 miles in its reward program. Go with the miles, right?

9. Has ISIS infiltrated a multinational financial services company? Let's go to the video.

HSBC fired six of its bankers after a video was posted online in which they depicted a mock Islamist State beheading of an Asian co-worker. It was supposed to be a team-building exercise, but precisely for which team wasn't exactly clear.

8. Using software to cheat and destroy the atmosphere.

The good folks at Volkswagen purposely installed software in diesel cars built in the United States that would allow the vehicles to circumvent emission tests. It was reported 11 million cars worldwide contained the shady software and CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned in disgrace. Sorry, I can't think of anything funny to say about this one.

7. This is exactly NOT how a free press works.

A University of Missouri communications professor was caught on tape blocking a freelance photographer attempting to shoot photos at a protest on campus. On the video, Dr. Melissa Click is seen getting in the face of photog Tim Tai and asking for some "muscle" to remove him from the public area.

This kind of fascism is expected from, I dunno, the Trump campaign, but is completely inexcusable on a college campus... and by a media instructor, no less. Pro tip: Use the "relations" part in media relations, not jack-booted thuggery.

6. He had one job.

At the climax of this year's Miss Universe contest in Las Vegas, Steve Harvey called out the name of Ariadna Gutierrez-Arévalo, Miss Colombia, as the pageant's winner. Funny story: the actual winner was Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo.

Right on cue, Twitter exploded. Harvey quickly said he was sorry on the platform, tweeting "I want to apologize emphatically to Miss Philippians and Miss Columbia. This was a terribly honest human mistake and I am so regretful." Yep, misspelling BOTH countries, capping off one of his funniest nights ever as a comedian.

5. Can only a good a-hole with a gun stop a bad a-hole with a gun?

Self-evident a-hole and Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer went to Africa on a big game hunt and for $55,000, was allowed to shoot a lion. It turned out, the poor animal the cowardly doctor killed was Cecil the Lion, a beloved 13-year old great cat which was a favorite of tourist photographers in the Hwange park in Zimbabwe. Apparently, our society has not evolved past the point where we get our jollies out of killing innocent, defenseless animals.

4. Insert your own 12-inch joke here.

Jared Fogle, chubby schlub-turned-Subway sandwich pitchman, ran into a bit of a legal problem this year. He was charged with receiving and distributing child pornography and worse, repeatedly paying to engage in sexually-explicit acts with children. He pleaded guilty and got 15 years in prison, knowing no doubt, about the warm reception that awaited him.

3. A reality show star's one-man scandal industrial complex.

Josh Duggar, conservative Christian activist and eldest son of TV's 19 Kids and Counting family tried to fend off a host of scandals, including molestation of his sisters and other girls, as well as cheating on his wife Anna. Like a baller, Duggar was even caught up in the Ashely Madison data hack. TLC, the network that was airing the family's "reality" program, canned it in July. Sorry, this one's not funny either.

2. Well, we all know what karma is...

Notorious "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli first became publicly known when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, jacked up the price of Daraprim, a life-saving drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Not a great PR move by any stretch, but it gets even better.

In numerous subsequent TV interviews, not only did he defend the move, but actually boasted of his business prowess and kept making comments about how women find him irresistible, etc. All of which elevated his douche factor off the scale. But things can change quickly in the public arena.

In December he was arrested by the FBI, charged with federal securities fraud and was fired from his CEO perch.

1. Poor, sweet Jeb!

The season finale of Saturday Night Live contained a skit of cutting mockery on the debate circumstances of John Ellis Bush, son and brother to two members of the Former POTUS Club.

It was merely the latest in a long series of PR woes for a presidential candidate that seems either in over his head, or one that really isn't trying very hard to become our nation's chief executive. How bad has it been? The ex-Florida governor has amassed an impressive collection of memorable flubs:

  • He said even knowing what we know now, he would have invaded Iraq. Three qualifications later, he admitted he would not have invaded.

  • When discussing Planned Parenthood, he said, "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues."
  • On getting to 4 percent GDP growth, "it means that people need to work longer hours."
  • Asked how the GOP could expand its attraction to black voters, he said the party needs a message of hope, not one "of division and get in line and we'll take care of you with free stuff."
  • In defending his use of the term 'anchor babies' he explained that it wasn't derogatory and that "frankly, it's more related to Asian people."
  • On Medicare, Bush said "...we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others."
  • On a mass shooting in Oregon, Bush commented, "Stuff happens."
  • On the topic of 9/11 he pulled out the tired trope that his brother "kept us safe" while seemingly ignoring the unpleasant fact that big bro was actually president when the United States was attacked.
  • And I haven't mentioned the exclamation point, which has been a goldmine for ridicule from the campaign's genesis. There is so much more, but you get the picture.

    For running one of the most wretched American presidential campaigns in modern history, Jeb(!) has earned our top spot... and with any luck he'll still be in the race all the way to the convention next summer.