When PR Events Go Awry

When putting together a PR event or promotional stunt, communicators need to consider the law of unintended consequences. The folks at LG didn’t think about that, apparently, when they started a race in Seoul to grab smartphone vouchers hanging from helium balloons, resulting in 20 people being injured and seven sent to the hospital.

LG, which has cancelled a series of events promoting the handset following the incident last week, has taken full responsibility for the situation and said it would cover related medical costs, according to the BBC. None of the injuries were serious, LG said.

At the event, LG released 100 helium balloons, each with a free smartphone voucher. (The GD smartphone costs $851 U.S.) People showed up with BB guns and knives on sticks to shoot down the balloons and surged forward when they were released, the BBC said.

In a more benign vein, this got us thinking about some of the things that can go wrong during a presser or PR event and how communicators might react:

We ran out of booze just 10 minutes after the event started.


Our keynote speaker is stuck on the tarmac and can't make it to the event.

My CEO just tried to make a joke during her opening remarks. Wince.


My iPhone suddenly crapped out and I'm supposed to take pictures of the guest speakers.


Just two reporters and one blogger showed up to the presser.

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1

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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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