LOS ANGELES, Jan. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Social media has made it easier than any time in history for human beings to embarrass themselves and even ruin their careers in a matter of minutes. The most painfully awful and sometimes funny examples from 2013 were recognized today by the first Weiner Awards, a formally adjudicated event created by Jonathan Bernstein and Erik Bernstein of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.
"We dubbed this phenomena 'Social Media Darwinism,' and are grateful to former congressman and former mayoral wannabe Anthony Weiner for inspiring us," said Jonathan Bernstein, the company founder and president.
In fact, in addition to the top three Weiner Winners for 2013, Anthony Weiner was honored with the event's first "Lifetime Weiner Award."
"He not only derailed his congressional campaign so effectively by sexting in 2011, but then also repeated his behavior in 2013 under the now-infamous alias 'Carlos Danger,' said Erik Bernstein, Jonathan's son and the firm's Social Media Manager.
Starting with a total of 16 self-destructive candidates nominated by the public via the Weiner Awards Facebook page, the Bernsteins narrowed the field to 10 worst Wieners that were placed on the judges' ballots. Each judge in the "Weiner Supreme Court" ranked the candidates from 1-10, with "10" being each judge's pick for the top award and with the father/son duo uninvolved in the final selection process. Those rankings were added to identify the collective top three winners.
And the winners of the 2013 Weiner Awards, with comments from some of our judges, are (drum roll and pratfall please):
1ST PLACE (by a large margin) – Justine Sacco, the now-former Communications Director for IAC who ignited international outrage when, about to board a flight from London to Cape Town, she Tweeted: "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just Kidding. I'm White!'"
"The Sacco incident teaches an important lesson, that people who aren't funny still aren't funny on social media," said Bruce Bonafede of Bonafede Communications.
2nd PLACE – Clorox, for a post on its Facebook page that repeatedly denigrated the abilities of men as parents, resulting in a huge public backlash. And then for compounding its mistake with an insulting, weak apology.
Susan Tellem of Tellem Grody PR commented, "This is the kind of non-apology apology some people try to use these days. 'We're sorry you didn't get our joke.' " Tellem added, "BTW, Clorox has ruined many of my clothes."
3rd PLACE – A tie between Greg Gopman, head of AngelHack in San Francisco, and Taylor Palmisano, who was finance director for Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).
Gopman evinced a well-upturned nose when he bashed every indigent resident of San Francisco and the city itself on his Facebook page, wailing, "The difference is in other cosmopolitan cities, the lower part of society keep to themselves." Unfortunately, he couldn't fire himself.
"He doesn't understand the basic responsibility of a CEO. Others will look to your behavior as an example, good or bad," said Merrie Spaeth of Spaeth Communications.
Palmisano's broad-spectrum racist comments were enshrined by Twitter, resulting in her dismissal.
CK Syme's honcho Chris Syme warned, "People show their true colors thinking that they're only communicating with their friends, forgetting that some snarky friends might share it elsewhere."
The Weiner winners are all invited to contact the Bernsteins to claim their Weiner Certificate of Achievement. Nominees for the 2014 Weiner Awards are already being accepted at the event's Facebook page.
The initial list of 16 nominees (with relevant links), the ballot of 10 final nominees with the consolidate judges' ranking, and other relevant documents can be downloaded from this Dropbox folder.
About the Weiner Supreme Court and Bernstein Crisis Management
Bruce Bonafede is a PR consultant, author, and ghostwriter. Bonafede claims he invented Twitter, but it was 1972 and there wasn't any Internet yet. His humor book "Nobody Knows My Name by Anonymous" was published in August 2013.
Tony Jaques is an Australian PR consultant and a part-time academic who has spent a career in public relations after convincing himself that it couldn't really be that hard. Of particular relevance to the Sacco nomination, Tony noted "the funniest thing about public relations is the number of otherwise sensible people in the profession who take it and themselves far too seriously."
Merrie Spaeth's father used to say she has a bio instead of a resume to cover up the fact that she could never hold a job for more than a year, which is why she's an author, founder of Spaeth Communications, creator and publisher of the BIMBO Memo and former Special Assistant to the President and Director of Media Relations during the Reagan Administration.
Chris Syme is founder and principal of CKSyme Media Group, a crisis PR agency that specializes in keeping people out of hot water. She admits that being on the judging panel for the Weiner Awards is a dream gig as she enjoys pointing out other people's faults.
Susan Tellem, APR, RN, BSN, LMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ, is a senior partner with Tellem Grody PR, Inc., where she is known as "The Queen." Based on her 30 years in PR, and a solid six years of Tweeting and Facebooking her way into social media history, she is recommending stiff jail time for the Weiner Award winners.
Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month, was one of the world's first virtual consultancies. It provides 24/7 access to its president, Jonathan Bernstein, and a network of carefully screened and highly experienced crisis management experts who are on call nationwide and in many markets overseas.
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