Zen Media - B2B Marketing & PR Agency for B2B Brands

19 Successful PR Campaigns from Innovative Companies

  • Megan Noorman
  • December 28, 2023

examples of successful pr campaigns

Successful PR campaigns come in as many different forms as there are brands. What could be innovative and on-point for one company may be totally off-key for another.

Despite that, looking at other companies’ PR successes can still be helpful when developing a comprehensive PR campaign for your brand . So let’s look at 19 major PR successes over the years from companies across various industries and key takeaways to strengthen the impact of your next PR campaign.

1. The “Summer of Barbie” Campaign

The “Summer of Barbie” campaign, associated with the 2023 Barbie movie, created a global buzz. This vibrant campaign included painting mansions pink and setting up life-sized Barbie boxes for photo ops, leading to a surprising pink paint shortage. The campaign’s success was monumental, contributing to the movie’s staggering $2.9 billion global gross.

The Barbie campaign tapped into the nostalgia of a beloved brand while aligning it with contemporary trends. Brands can learn to blend nostalgia with modern elements to appeal to both long-time followers and new audiences.

By weaving a compelling narrative around Barbie and integrating it with real-world experiences, the campaign created a story that people wanted to be a part of. Brands should focus on crafting stories that are not only engaging but also offer opportunities for the audience to participate and contribute, creating a shared and more impactful brand journey.

2. Reinventing Financial PR with Dwolla

Dwolla, an established player in the modern payments platform sector, sought to rejuvenate its image and boost brand awareness in 2022. Zen Media’s approach was a dynamic 90-day PR blitz, focusing on forward-thinking announcements and unveiling new partnerships. This comprehensive strategy also highlighted unique case studies and proactive podcast pitches, cementing Dwolla’s position as a fintech thought leader. The outcome was impressive: over 170 media pieces and 250+ social media engagements, significantly raising Dwolla’s profile and exceeding their expectations in brand visibility.

Dwolla’s campaign also underscores the importance of innovation within industry norms. In the financial sector, where trust and reliability are paramount, Dwolla managed to inject freshness and dynamism into its brand image without losing sight of these core values. Brands in other sectors can take note of this balance between innovation and adherence to industry standards.

3. Lego Rebuild the World 

Their first global PR campaign in decades, Lego’s Rebuild the World was focused on inspiring creative thinking in kids—but also adults. As part of the public relations campaign, Lego asked customers to submit pictures of their creations, aggregated onto a 3D globe on the brand’s website. Users can move and spin the globe to see what people worldwide have created. 

The best part is that Rebuild the World struck the perfect balance between inspirational and playful—an exact fit for Lego’s overall brand personality.

4. Kamua’s Product Launch campaign

Our client Kamua, an AI-powered video editing platform, wanted to establish itself as an authoritative voice in the video editing industry and rapidly expand its base of dedicated users. 

We worked with them to create a comprehensive, strategic public relations strategy that included bylined articles by Kamua founder and CEO Paul Robert Cary; multiple monthly mentions including in tier-one publications; and, most importantly, a Product Hunt launch campaign that would get Kamua’s name and product in front of thousands of tech-savvy users and influencers. 

Kamua became one of the top three most-hunted products on Product Hunt, was featured in Product Hunt’s email newsletter , and was named Best Product of the Week by Product Hunt the week of its campaign. Just one outcome of this PR campaign? The platform gained 400 new users literally overnight.

Related read: Product Launch Marketing: Strategy, Plan, and Execute

Top 3 Most Hunted on ProductHunt banner

5. Dove’s #TheSelfieTalk Campaign

A decade after the women’s skincare brand launched its Real Beauty campaign, it’s still going strong. 

Why? Because they’ve involved real women (and girls) every step of the way. Their latest campaign is a commentary on how social media affects girls’ self-esteem. Their #TheSelfieTalkCampaign shows a young girl editing a photo of herself to post online. To make their point, Dove shows this process in reverse. The advertisement ends by showing the girl’s natural face without makeup or filters. 

From honest conversations on beauty standards to what it means to “throw like a girl,” Dove’s public relations campaigns have evolved and adapted to the times by staying sincerely in touch with what its customers are experiencing in their daily lives.

6. BBC’s Peaky Blinders fan art campaign

Fan art is a world unto itself—but surprisingly few brands embrace this “unofficial” view, even though it’s probably the best possible source of user-generated content a brand could ever ask for. 

An exception to this was the show Peaky Blinders , which issued a call to fans to create art for their new season’s imagery in 2019. Not only did this generate interest among casual viewers and those who were not yet fans, but it also strengthened the relationship between the show’s creators and the viewers who love it—a win-win. 

Related read: How to Take Your User-Generated Content from Good to Great

7. Caldwell’s newsjacking campaign

Caldwell, a law firm specializing in high-growth startups and early-stage tech and life sciences, aimed to extend its brand beyond its founder’s reputation. The firm worked with Zen Media, and our innovative strategy involved a newsjacking campaign, seizing real-time opportunities for Caldwell’s attorneys to comment on global cases. This proactive approach led to numerous features in trade magazines covering tech and biotech cases, enhancing Caldwell’s visibility and establishing its lawyers as industry thought leaders.

Caldwell’s approach illustrates the effectiveness of creating a multi-dimensional brand identity . By showcasing their expertise on various platforms and media, they not only enhanced their brand visibility but also added depth to their brand’s persona. Brands should strive to create a diverse yet cohesive image that reflects their multiple strengths and areas of expertise.

8. The Eras Tour — More than just a concert

Can we call a concert tour a campaign? Why not! Taylor Swift took over the world in 2023 with her Eras Tour. She not only blasted through global attendance and revenue records for a tour and had a direct impact on local economies where she performed (and released multiple albums and a film), but she also created a widespread culture that consumed the market. 

The Eras Tour exemplifies the power of a holistic marketing approach. By integrating various elements—music, visual arts, storytelling—into a cohesive campaign, Swift managed to create a brand experience that was both immersive and memorable. Brands can learn to integrate different marketing elements to create a more comprehensive and engaging campaign.

Another critical aspect of the Eras Tour’s success was Swift’s strong fan base. Brands should focus on building and nurturing a loyal community around their products or services—it can be a powerful tool in amplifying the impact of campaigns.

9. State Street Global Advisors Fearless Girl 

The Fearless Girl statue that the Wall Street firm State Street Global Advisors firm placed to face down the famous Wall Street bull became a symbol of the financial sector’s lack of gender diversity, and the women who have been at the forefront of trying to change that. 

But in addition to its symbolic importance, it’s also a carefully crafted advertisement—one for the firm’s exchange-traded Gender Diversity Index SHE fund. 

The firm has faced some criticism over the years since putting up the statue, as it hasn’t always been clear whether State Street Global Advisors is making gender diversity a true priority. 

And this brings up another important point when it comes to creating successful PR campaigns: Your brand needs to put its money where its mouth is. If you say diversity, or sustainability, or another issue is important to you, make sure you’re backing that up with real action. 

Related read: Negative Public Perceptions and Other PR Problems: How To Change The Narrative

 "The Fearless Girl" statue facing Charging Bull in Lower Manhattan, New York City

10. Calian IT & Cyber Solutions—Blending brands for a bigger impact

Following its acquisition of Computex, Calian IT & Cyber Solutions faced the challenge of merging brand identities and penetrating the U.S. market. They partnered with us at Zen Media, and we created a strategic PR roadmap, including curated proactive pitching topics to position two of Calian IT & Cyber Solutions’ senior executives as thought leaders in their areas of expertise. 

Zen would also help secure the executives Forbes Technology Council memberships and launch a regular cadence of published bylines. This robust campaign led to significant media coverage and awards, with Calian’s IT & Cyber Solutions division reporting double-digit revenue growth, largely credited to their expanded U.S. presence.

In merging two brands, it’s crucial to balance innovation with the preservation of core values and strengths that define each brand. This balance helps in maintaining loyalty among existing customers while attracting new ones.

11. New Cosmos USA’s community-first approach

New Cosmos USA, committed to preventing natural gas explosions with their DeNova Detect alarm, took a unique community-centric PR approach. In response to a gas explosion in West Reading, Pennsylvania, they collaborated with Zen Media for a rapid community support and media outreach strategy. This involved donations, local PSA publications, and educational materials on gas safety. 

The campaign, replicated in other locations, not only bolstered community safety but also positioned DeNova Detect as a leader in natural gas safety, leading to increased sales in those areas. By positioning the DeNova Detect alarm as a solution to a community issue, New Cosmos USA effectively aligned their product with community welfare, enhancing the product’s value proposition. Brands should evaluate the success of their campaigns not just in terms of sales but also by their impact on community welfare and social awareness.

12. Gender Pay Gap Bot Fights For Fair Wages 

As we’ve stated, many companies like to raise awareness of social issues and fight for change. The Gender Pay Gap Bot is an automated Twitter account that advocates for women’s rights to equal pay—and on International Women’s Day, the bot ran a PR campaign to hold companies accountable. 

Their slogan: “Stop posting platitudes. Start fixing the problem.” 

As companies in various industries filled users’ feeds with empowering messages, the Gender Pay Gap Bot responded with data revealing the inequities in compensation between their male and female employees. This PR strategy sheds light on these issues through transparency and neutral messaging. Today, the Twitter account has over 240,000 followers. 

13. McDonald’s ‘We Hire People’ Campaign

Companies that emphasize the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are paving the way for a kinder, more inclusive world. Promoting these brand values through public relations strategies is a great way to show your commitment to welcoming all of your employees and customers. 

McDonald’s ‘We Hire People” Campaign does just this. The fast-food chain introduces viewers to many individuals with various cultural backgrounds, passions, and ages. The advertisement shows that McDonald’s doors are open to everyone. These messages are essential in 2024. 

14. Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ Campaign

This campaign has been one of the most successful PR campaigns of all time. The tagline “Just Do It” is simple yet powerful and has become synonymous with Nike’s brand identity. The campaign’s success is due to its inspirational message that encourages consumers to push themselves beyond their limits and achieve their goals. Nike has used the campaign to showcase its products as tools that help people achieve their athletic potential. The “ Just Do It” campaign has also featured famous athletes, such as Michael Jordan and Serena Williams, who embody Nike’s brand values of determination, perseverance, and excellence.

15. Google’s Year in Search

Google’s “Year in Search” campaign is an annual PR campaign that showcases the top trending searches of the year. The campaign has been successful because it taps into people’s emotional connections to current events and showcases Google’s ability to capture the pulse of the world through search data. The campaign is also highly shareable and creates a sense of community around the shared experience of looking back at the year’s top moments. The campaign reinforces Google’s brand identity as a company that is at the forefront of technology and innovation.

16. Red Bull’s ‘Stratos’ Campaign

In 2012, Red Bull sponsored Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking jump from the edge of space called the “ Red Bull Stratos. ” The campaign was a massive success, generating over 52 million views on YouTube and millions of dollars in earned media coverage. The campaign was successful because it showcased Red Bull’s brand values of extreme sports and adventure while also breaking a world record. The campaign was a testament to the power of experiential marketing and how brands can leverage events to create memorable and impactful campaigns.

17. Chipotle’s ‘Food with ‘Integrity’ campaign

Chipotle’s “ Food with Integrity” campaign was an innovative marketing campaign that aimed to differentiate the company from other fast-food chains by highlighting its commitment to sourcing sustainable and ethically produced ingredients for its menu. The campaign featured a series of advertisements that showcased Chipotle’s use of fresh, locally sourced, and sustainably-raised ingredients and its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.

What made the campaign innovative was that it was not just a marketing gimmick; Chipotle really did change its sourcing practices to live up to the promises it made in the ads. The company worked directly with farmers and producers to develop sustainable farming practices, and it paid premium prices to ensure that the farmers were able to make a living wage. The success of the campaign was due to its resonance with consumers who valued healthier, more sustainable food options and appreciated Chipotle’s mission as much as its food.

18. Patagonia Says ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’

Patagonia’s “ Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign was an innovative marketing campaign that aimed to encourage customers to buy less and reduce their environmental impact. The campaign was launched in 2011 and featured a full-page ad in The New York Times that showed one of Patagonia’s best-selling jackets with the headline “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” The ad went on to explain the environmental impact of the jacket’s production and encouraged customers to think twice before making a purchase.

What made the campaign innovative was that it went against the traditional marketing strategy of encouraging customers to buy more. Instead, Patagonia wanted to use its platform to raise awareness about the environmental impact of consumerism and to encourage customers to make more conscious choices. The campaign also reflected Patagonia’s long-standing commitment to sustainability and its belief that the company had a responsibility to minimize its environmental impact. The campaign was a success and helped to solidify Patagonia’s reputation as a leader in sustainability and environmental activism.

19. Airbnb’s ‘Belong Anywhere’ Campaign

This PR campaign was an innovative campaign that aimed to position the company as a global community that offered unique and authentic travel experiences. The campaign focused on Airbnb’s ability to connect people from different cultures and backgrounds, highlighting the role of welcoming and knowledgeable local hosts. The campaign was successful because it tapped into the growing trend of experiential travel and emphasized the community aspect of travel. It helped establish Airbnb as a disruptor in the travel industry and drove significant growth for the company.

Creating an innovative, successful PR campaign requires a team of experts who know your brand inside and out. If you’re looking for help making your next PR campaign stand out, get in touch with Zen ! 

  • Public Relations
  • business marketing strategies , Online Marketing , pr campaign , public relations

public relations case studies 2021

The 5-Day MBA
in Modern Day PR

  • Wondering how to connect PR to bottom-line sales and ROI?
  • Tired of asking, "How can I measure PR efforts?"
  • Not sure of the role PR even plays in today’s world?

public relations case studies 2021

Don’t miss!

Expert-level insights direct from our ceo’s desk..

  • Reach new audiences.
  • Retain clients.
  • Boost overall sales.

Explore the latest in B2B PR and marketing

decorative - brand managment

  • May 16, 2024
  • Content Strategy , Misc , Public Relations

Building Blocks for Success: B2B Brand Management Essentials

public relations case studies 2021

  • May 14, 2024
  • Public Relations , Social Media Marketing

The Case for Crisis Communication as a Tool for Reputation Management


  • May 13, 2024
  • Content Strategy , Public Relations

How To Make Your Inc. 5000 Buzz Last in 2024

Let’s talk., our clients are smart, thoughtful, & forward-thinking., sound like you get in touch..

Minority and Women-Owned | DBE, MBE & SBE Certified | Creative + Communications + Conversions

Not a member yet? Learn more about joining here.

Connect with

public relations case studies 2021

Case Studies

  • Account Based Marketing (ABM)
  • Corporate Communications
  • ESG Communications
  • Food & Beverage
  • Social Responsibility

public relations case studies 2021

Enriching Results with NICO & CLYDE

NICO Corporation, in partnership with Emory University, was set to announce the results of their seven-year multi-site clinical trial, ENRICH, […]

A Place for Everyone with Rover & CLYDE

When alarming data showed that 20–50% of women don’t leave abusive relationships because of concern about a pet’s fate, Rover […]

Retiring the Crash Test Dummy  with Altair and Tier One Partners

Digital twin technology uses data to create digital models of virtually anything in the real world to improve and speed […]

The Primetime-ification of Women’s Sports with Ally and Tier One Partners

Despite record-breaking viewership and huge opportunity for brands to spur fan engagement, women’s sports receive less than 10% of media […]

Launching Workhuman’s Human Workplace Index with SourceCode

As the world of work has rapidly evolved in recent years, SourceCode developed a data storytelling concept to gauge the […]

Establishing Homebase as the Voice of Small Businesses with SourceCode

Homebase is an all-in-one SMB team management platform that serves over 100,000 small businesses and two million hourly workers to […]

public relations case studies 2021

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

3EPR - Public Relations

  • Our Difference
  • Public Relations
  • Social Media

Case Study: How Social Media Can Drive Leads

Emily maupai zinberg - 10/15/2021.

Read through this case study to learn how we helped our client pivot during the pandemic to leverage their altered industry landscape and tell an impactful story on social media to secure new, qualified leads.

While the media alerts us to the spread of “pandemic fatigue” among consumers across the country, many businesses are still navigating the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

Let’s be honest. In an already digital world, shifting to communicating with each other virtually was not really that difficult. Software and platform providers like Zoom and Microsoft Teams were already primed to satisfy and capitalize on the immediate need for streaming video services for both consumers and businesses.

However, for the businesses that achieved their success through an in-person customer service experience, it’s been a tougher transition. The ones who have survived and flourished are those who were able to recognize new and different opportunities and act on them to continue connecting with their target audience.

To learn how our client pivoted during the pandemic to leverage their disrupted industry landscape and secure new, qualified leads, read this case study.

Education and Understanding 3E Public Relations (3E PR) client Huntington Learning Center, a national tutoring and test prep franchise, faced great challenges in March 2020 when our world suddenly turned virtual. The corporate and individually own learning centers needed to transition their in-person structure to a virtual experience to keep their services relevant and in-demand.

Offering their tutoring and test prep services online was not enough to maintain business success and, more importantly, stay relevant in a pandemic world. Huntington Learning Center recognized that parents and students needed (and still need) more than tutoring services; they needed an education partner to support and guide them through two of the hardest school years of their lives.

The most impactful story you can tell on social media is one that communicates a true understanding of your target audience’s pain points and inspires trust in your brand as a resource for them. This is what 3E PR helped Huntington Learning Center do in order to maintain and strengthen the connection with their target audience.

Seize the Opportunity As Huntington Learning Center and schools across the world shifted to online learning, parents, students and teachers were rocked by how challenging school became. The environment and connection required for teachers to reach and truly educate a child was lost in a virtual classroom. This brought on great concern from parents and teachers who watched students’ struggle and fall behind throughout the year, referred to as “ the COVID slide .”

This trend presented an opportunity for Huntington Learning Center to become a relevant and valuable resource for parents and students looking to combat learning loss, while also generating awareness and leads for its Academic Evaluation.

Huntington Learning Center’s Academic Evaluation is designed to assess each child to identify strengths and weaknesses. The certified tutors can then develop a customized learning plan to address the areas where a student needs help to succeed academically. This is the first step of Huntington Learning Center’s proven tutoring method. The Academic Evaluation became an invaluable tool for parents during the pandemic to help measure the impact virtual learning had on their child’s school progress.

3E PR worked with Huntington Learning Center to create a strategic social media campaign comprised of Facebook and Instagram ads that would:

  • Grow awareness of Huntington Learning Center’s Academic Evaluation and its benefits by speaking to timely parent pain points.
  • Drive signups for Huntington Learning Center’s Academic Evaluation by offering a limited-time price.
  • Generate leads to be used for future Huntington Learning Center marketing communications.

Educate & Engage Social media marketing cannot be successful without engaging and relevant content that educates the target audience about how a product or service will benefit their life or solve their problem.

Landing Page The first step in creating this campaign was developing a dedicated landing page that would focus on the benefits of the Academic Evaluation. This page reinforced the growing danger of learning loss for students in a virtual classroom and explained how Huntington Learning Center’s evaluation can help children catch up and improve their knowledge and skills.

The landing page then pulled visitors’ attention to a form to fill out in order to receive the limited-time price coupon for the Academic Evaluation.

For the purposes of monitoring and measuring the success of this campaign, website tags and event codes were also placed on the landing page to track visitors and conversions resulting from social media.

public relations case studies 2021

A series of social media ads were written to recount the story of the challenging school years that put our children’s education at risk and reinforced Huntington Learning Center as the premier partner that could help them.

The social media ads included:

  • Casual language and terminology that spoke to parents on their level to avoid alienation.
  • Eye-catching graphics that clearly stated the offer along with imagery of happy children in learning settings to inspire positive and hopeful emotions.
  • Strong calls-to-action to drive parents to act in the moment of interest.

Social Media Ads In running a lead generation campaign where the cost to convert is often higher, careful attention to the targeting parameters is necessary to avoid a wasted media spend. Targeting users who are the most likely to take interest and purchase the service or product is the ultimate goal.

Through Facebook’s advertising platform Huntington Learning Center’s Academic Evaluation campaign was promoted to Facebook and Instagram using a variety of data sources to build out more qualified audience targeting.

  • Lookalike audiences were created based off current page followers and users who had engaged with the pages previously.
  • Custom audiences were created using email lists to deliver ads to current and past Huntington Learning Center customers.
  • Interest-based audiences were created to leverage the like-minded followings of popular parent websites, blogs, brands, etc.

Evaluation & Adjustment One of the most frustrating occurrences in digital marketing is when a media budget is wasted by advertisers who “set it and forget it.” It is rare that the initial advertising copy and imagery selected for a campaign achieves the desired level of results.

3E PR monitored the performance of the social media ads daily and recommended adjustments at appropriate intervals. These adjustments included but were not limited to:

  • Turning off low-performing ads that were not attracting results.
  • Writing several new ad copy variations to find the message that inspired users to click-through to the landing page.
  • Interchanging ads and audiences to identify the most beneficial pairings.
  • Adjusting the layout of the landing page and the length of the form fill to capture more conversions.

With these strategic optimizations, the social media ads saw consistent improvement over the run of the campaign.

Pro Tip: Learn how to optimize your social media campaigns with these tips !

Results The Academic Evaluation campaign ran on social media from July 14-August 3, 2021. During that time, the ads themselves secured 116 leads through Facebook and Instagram. There were also 132 inquiries (people called the Huntington Learning Center call center or an specific Huntington Learning Center location) about the $79 Academic Evaluation offer.

Including the sales from people who purchased an Academic Evaluation and those that went on to purchase a full tutoring program, Huntington Learning Center saw an ROI of 327% as a result of this campaign.

The leads and new customers captured in this campaign will be added to future Huntington Learning Center marketing communications to potentially convert on key services multiple times.

And, Huntington Learning Center now has the benchmark data required to run more informed and strategic social media campaigns in the future.


Pin It on Pinterest

PRSSA - Home

  • Bateman Case Study Competition

Enhance Your Education

The Bateman Case Study Competition is PRSSA’s premier national case study competition for public relations students and gives you an opportunity to apply your classroom education and internship experiences to create and implement a full public relations campaign.

2025 Competition

First established as the National Case Study in 1973 and later renamed to honor the late J. Carroll Bateman, APR, it challenges teams of students to research, plan, implement and evaluate a public relations campaign for an actual client. More than 75 teams enter the competition each year, giving students real-world experience that can translate to résumé additions, portfolio pieces and even jobs. After an extensive judging process, three finalists are chosen to present their campaigns to the sponsor, who receives the right to ideas presented. If your company is interested in enhancing the educational experience of public relations students while also benefitting from their hard work, knowledge and resources, find out more about becoming a  Competition sponsor .

This year, students are challenged to develop a campaign on behalf of EveryLibrary and the EveryLibrary Institute. EveryLibrary is the only national 504(c)4 political action committee for libraries. Their mission is to support public libraries on Election Days, stabilize school library budgets, guard against book bans, and engage with state legislatures alongside partner organizations. This year's Competition will focus on positioning EveryLibrary as the leading national organization for library activists, donors, and users. 

EveryLibrary Logo Web Ready

Competition Materials

  • 2025 Timeline
  • 2025 Rules And Guidelines
  • 2025 Bateman Competition Project Brief
  • Deadline: Oct. 21, 2024 (2 p.m. ET)

Past Competitions

Whether you are new to the competition or have participated before, review these past campaigns to see the creativity, thoroughness and strategic thinking that go into winning campaigns each year.

  • 2024  Culturs The Global Multicultural Magazine
  • 2023  News Literacy Project
  • 2022 Lymphoma Research Foundation
  • 2021 PRSA Civility Task Force
  • 2020  U.S. Census Bureau
  • 2019  The PRSA Foundation
  • 2018  With Purpose
  • 2017  Campaign To Change Direction
  • 2016  Student Veterans of America (SVA)
  • 2015  Home Matters
  • 2014  Fiserv
  • 2013  Raising Awareness of the Consequences of Youth Bullying

Sponsor Bateman

Each year, more than 60 student teams at colleges and universities nationwide compete in the Bateman Case Study Competition. With guidance from advisers, each team researches, plans and executes a public relations campaign in its community for the client, which receives rights to the campaign ideas presented.

As the Bateman Competition client and sponsor, you provide an outstanding educational experience for students — but good will certainly isn’t the only benefit of the sponsorship.

  • Local Touch; National Reach. As the competition sponsor, your cause is advocated in various locations nationwide through campaigns tailored to fit each community’s unique demographics and values. You also receive the research findings that support these campaigns.
  • Social Media Immersion . Students, immersed in new technology, are able to confidently apply social media strategies to support your cause.
  • Creativity of Youth. The effective creativity of the student campaigns have been a highlight of the competition every year. As a sponsor, you receive a copy of every entry and rights to use in part or entirety all ideas submitted.
  • Insight of Experience. Each student team has at least one Professional and one Faculty Adviser, who help ground each campaign in the principles of strategic public relations.
  • Nationwide Media Coverage . As the Bateman competition sponsor, you have multiple public relations teams pitching targeted stories about your cause to their local media.

Become a Sponsor

The first step to sponsoring the Bateman Case Study Competition is to contact Jeneen Garcia at [email protected] to discuss the program.

Sponsors are then asked to complete the sponsor RFP form ( Word or PDF ), which is reviewed for approval by PRSSA Headquarters.

  • Individual Scholarships
  • Chapter Awards
  • Leadership Recognition
  • Event Grants
  • Other Competitions
  • Previous Award Winners

PA Assignments

The worst PR disasters of 2021

9 December 2021

As with 2020 , our award for worst PR of the year goes to government comms. However, at home and abroad, there are plenty of brands and celebrities which have also been busy putting their feet firmly in their mouths. 

As far as Andy Barr, owner of agency 10 Yetis Digital and writer of PRmoment column Good and Bad PR , is concerned, it has been a particularly bad year for FMCG brands: “Many japesters would point at the roller-coaster year that the PR community itself has had, but I think overall, the FMCG world has fared far worse, especially in the world of food and drink. Coke vs Ronaldo, Pepsi vs the BLM movement, KFC vs Chickens (or lack thereof) and Walkers and Weetabix vs IT glitches, have led to all the wrong kinds of headlines for these usually PR-savvy global brands. Lots of learning points for us comms folk in terms of crisis communications, but also a nasty bruise in the sales figures and share prices for these household names.”

Below is PRmoment’s calendar of the worst PR disasters of the year.

February BetterHelp Raquel Pinto, digital PR executive at agency  Limelight Digital : “BetterHelp, the online portal that offers mental health services online has been incredibly controversial for all the wrong reasons:

“When a therapist on TikTok (@therapyden) raised awareness on the fact that BetterHelp was selling user data to third parties, the decision on BetterHelp's part was to update its terms of service and privacy policy to claim it does not sell users information on any advertising platform or third party, that is, of course, excluding the data that will indeed be shared with affiliates in BetterHelp’s corporate group or for various business purposes and other activity data that will be sent to advertising partners to optimise marketing. See the irony?

@therapyjeff Why do therapists hate BetterHelp? #betterhelp #therapy #therapytiktok #therapist #mentalhealthmatters #trauma #siliconvalley ♬ original sound - TherapyJeff

“As if that wasn't bad enough, BetterHelp concurrently aligned with Travis Scott after the horrific Astroworld concert to offer a measly one-month free trial of therapy sessions to the victims, announcing it as a 'partnership' that quite frankly read like an influencer-brand deal.”

Volkswagen becomes Voltswagen

Mimi Brown, associate director at PR agency The PHA Group : “ One of the PR fails that sticks in my mind this year is Voltswagen. Yes, Voltswagen - the automaker temporarily rebranded as an early April Fools’ Day prank this March to demonstrate its commitment to ‘future-forward investment in e-mobility’ and establish itself as the leader in the EV space.

public relations case studies 2021

“It was an unusual marketing approach for a business that has spent five years trying to shed a reputation for corporate dishonesty by the Dieselgate scandal, where the automaker not only sold millions of cars that cheated emissions tests, but also actively tried to cover up its wrongdoing when questioned by regulators. Whilst the name change may have sounded like a good idea at Volkswagen HQ, for many consumers, it was the worst April Fools’ Day prank they’ve heard since VW told the world its diesel was clean.”

European Super League

Lottie West, associate director - UK consumer lead at PR agency Hotwire Global : “The announcement and subsequent unravelling of the European Super League has to be up there with the worst PR fails of recent times. In attempting to break away from their home leagues, the 12 football clubs involved demonstrated the fundamental error of ignoring the needs and wants of their most important consumer audience; the supporters. Friction between supporters and the corporate elite is nothing new - you only have to go to the Emirates on a Saturday afternoon to understand exactly how popular Stan Kroenke is for example - but it’s easy to close your ears to the fans when the multi-million pound deals keep rolling in.

public relations case studies 2021

“Less easy though when you don’t even have the buy-in of your own players, and stakeholders from the FA to Boris Johnson are stepping in to put a stop to proceedings. Within 48 hours the league lay in tatters, with clubs issuing grovelling apologies to their fans. By then the damage was done however, and this PR disaster only served to reinforce the disconnect between football’s boardroom and its grassroots. Time will tell whether this debacle will cause a much needed reassessment of the importance of fans to the game.”

M&S - Colin the Caterpillar

Jacquelyn Whyte, senior account director at agency Muckle Media: “My PR villain for this year has to be Colin the Caterpillar for trying to take poor Cuthbert to the high court. 2021 didn’t deliver the post-Covid return to normal we all hoped for this time last year, so the timing of the legal action just seemed a bit off. After the past two years we’ve all had, shouldn’t we just be allowed to have our (caterpillar) cake and eat it regardless of where we bought it?

public relations case studies 2021

While M&S came under fire for not extending the legal action to Cecil, Wiggles, Curly and Clyde, I did love how Aldi managed to turn the situation around with hilarious social media content and then the inclusion of Cuthbert in its Christmas ad seven months later - ensuring a second wave of positive coverage. Well played Aldi.“

Coke vs Ronaldo

The disaster for Coca-Cola was when Christiano Ronaldo decided to remove two Coke bottles at a Euro 2-2- new conference. The results? A $4 billion drop in the market value for the American drink brand.

Oliver Bradley, client director at startup agency for startups Words + Pixels: "Brewdog has built a reputation for being brash and breaking the rules. Whilst this attitude might not win it any fans at the ASA, it's a reputation that has been carefully curated over the years and built a loyal fanbase of customers. However, taking this approach to accusations of an internal ‘culture of fear’ and ‘toxic attitude’ was gravely misjudged. The brand’s immediate response to an open letter from 'Punks with Purpose '. It allegedly encouraged existing staff to sign a response letter (which was subsequently leaked) and mocked up an image of a non-existent brew, aptly named ‘Damage Control’. This naturally prompted social uproar which forced the brand to review its approach and the CEO apologised, promising an internal review and that lessons had been learnt... but this didn’t really ring true. No matter how good your external comms might be, alignment with internal teams has never been more important, because even though every brand will have a personality and tone of voice, issues like this require a much more human and empathetic approach."

KFC vs chickens

KFC had the nightmare of dealing with a chicken shortage with the chain admitting that some menu items were not available to order in its restaurants. Kentucky Fried Chicken warned customers to be prepared for “weeks of disruption” to its menu after running out of chicken supplies.

public relations case studies 2021

Discussing Facebook’s crash this autumn, Andy Barr wrote on 7 October in PRmoment’s Good and Bad PR column: “The outage seemed to affect all its social platforms and despite the conspiracy theorists trying to pin the blame on people working from home, I doubt we will ever know the real reason. It capped off a torrid week for the anti-social giant thanks to several leaked reports coming out about the company knowing that its channels can negatively affect mental health.

public relations case studies 2021

“Quite often in this column, a bad company decision, rather than a bad decision made by that company’s comms team wins it the title of Bad PR, but in Facebook’s case, its actual PR team had a shocker.

“When the Wall Street Journal approached the social-giant comms team with details of the leaked documents and a heads-up that it was going to run the story in approximately an hour, the company then broke its agreement to not say anything before the story ran by pushing out two documents about this issue.

“In crisis comms terms the goal is to get ahead of the story, but Facebook has committed a cardinal PR sin and you can guarantee it will never again get a heads-up about a hatchet job story by a media outlet. Double Bad PR for Zuck’s gang.”

Travis Scott

Linnea, PR executive at digital growth agency Pearl Lemon Group   says “Travis Scott is just a PR mess. From start to finish you're dealing with multiple deaths, an irresponsible party, and a massive lawsuit. I won't say that the entire situation is Travis Scott's fault because it's not, but he did have a role in the PR disaster that followed.

“Travis Scott has a history of inciting the crowd and encouraging dangerous behaviour from his audience. He has been seen egging the crowd to fight other people, to do dangerous stunts, and overall wreak havoc.

“As I mentioned previously, anytime there is a death, it's going to be bad PR no matter what, but what is even worse than being involved with something that resulted in a death, is something that resulted in multiple deaths: 10 as of today have been counted as a result of the Astroworld incident which then followed with a rumoured 2 billion dollar lawsuit to Travis Scott, LiveNation, Apple Music, Drake, and NRG Stadium.

“Some may say that's a lot of money, but I would say how can you even put a value to all the injuries and deaths that occurred at the event? These aren't adults either. These are kids. Kids who won't ever get the chance to grow up and live their lives as they would have.

“There is no apology that will ever justify all those deaths or make them better. And Travis Scott's ‘apology’ was the absolute worst thing he could have done to respond to the event. It felt like he was apologising for peeking at the presents too early, not being responsible for 10 deaths and multiple injuries.

“A better example of how to handle a situation is with Ariana Grande at Manchester. She was not responsible at all for the bombing that occurred, but she took responsibility anyway. She showed empathy, she showed courtesy, she showed grace, she showed that she cares about her fans. That's the best thing a celebrity can do.

“Sometimes deaths will happen. And it's always tragic when it happens, but most people just want to know that there is a human being behind the celebrity mask.”

Walkers and Weetabix

In PRmoment’s Good and Bad PR column published on 10 November, Andy Barr said: “Two food brands who got wrapped up in negative headlines surrounding supply shortages this week were Walkers and Weetabix. On both counts, sadly for the comms teams, operational issues have led to the Bad PR. Walkers has a mysterious ‘IT System’ issue that has meant that the production lines for the nation’s favourite crisps have moved to a go-slow and Weetabix is embroiled in a set of HR issues that could end up in a strike

public relations case studies 2021

“There is little that the PR teams can do to prevent the bad press, but it once again supports the general UK economic feeling that everything currently balances on a knife-edge.”

Yorkshire Cricket Club

Chris Norton, founder of agency Prohibition PR : “The Yorkshire Cricket Club’s handling of racism allegations has to be the biggest PR disaster of 2021 for me - the perfect example of how not to handle a crisis.

Not only did it fail to publish an investigation report and communicated very little, far too late, its positioning on the matter appeared worrying - which it may not have been, but unfortunately its comms suggested so. Sometimes silence really is louder than words and by not even acknowledging the matter until recently, it raised a lot of questions which led to weeks of national coverage.

“The club should have been much more open and honest from the start and identified a spokesperson to offer up its side of the story immediately. It also failed to explain what it was doing to investigate the allegations, how fast and what would happen as a result, which should have been the first thing it did.”

public relations case studies 2021

The gift that gave all year… The winner of worst PR of the year goes to…

Downing Street

Natalie Trice, senior PR director at marketing agency Fox Agency : “In a year that chewed up and spat out the likes of Colin the Caterpillar (see April), BrewDog (see June), Facebook (see October) and so many more, trying to find the worst PR is a tricky one. However, it must be Downing Street which needs to seriously get its press office game up to scratch. From Boris talking about Peppa Pig as he lost his way during a CBI speech, to Matt Hancock and that very private affair, back to Boris not wearing a mask whilst the rest of us have had them in every pocket, then there is the debacle of Dominic Cummings, and let’s not forget the unforgivable fiasco when it came to free school meals for the most vulnerable children in society, only saved by Marcus Rashford. Yes, we might be operating in unprecedented times, and trying to get to grips with a global pandemic isn’t an easy task, but time and time and time again the government’s PR, or lack of PR, has left people feeling angry and confused, and made us look like an incompetent nation. Let’s hope 2022 sees things change and if nothing else, when mistakes are made, make the apology and not only pledge to do better, but actually do better.”

Those may be the top PR lowlights of the year, but 2021 hasn’t ended yet, so there could be more to come. Which only leaves us to say, have a fabulous end of year, and may 2022 be a good one!

PRmoment Leaders

PRmoment Leaders is our new subscription-based learning programme and community, built by PRmoment specifically for the next generation of PR and communications leaders to learn, network, and lead.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for free to our twice weekly editorial alert.

We have six email alerts in total - covering ESG, internal comms, PR jobs and events. Enter your email address below to find out more:

Register for FREE today

To receive our free analysis on the leading techniques and campaigns in the PR sector please complete the following details:

  • Follow us on
  • PRmoment India

C.I.P.R. logo

  • Corporate Affiliate
  • Fees and payment
  • PR Register
  • Professional Standards
  • Qualifications
  • Chartership
  • Progress Mentoring Scheme
  • Excellence Awards
  • PRide Awards
  • Latest news
  • Engage podcast
  • Policy, campaigns and research
  • Ways we help
  • The 75 Fund
  • How to apply
  • Support Iprovision
  • Case studies
  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Our Governance
  • Volunteering
  • 75th Anniversary
  • Sponsorship opportunities

twitter share quote

New case study guide from the CIPR demonstrates value of PR in time of crisis

A new guide from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) showcases the strategic value of public relations to organisations. 

The ‘ Communicating in a Crisis ’ guide features 21 award-winning case studies on how organisations use their PR teams to navigate through times of crisis. Previous research from the CIPR has highlighted the increased value placed on public relations during the pandemic. This new guide demonstrates how PR teams deliver that value. 

Case studies include examples of how PR has been used to fight misinformation, unite remotely working colleagues, support the vaccine rollout, and support businesses adapt to a new economic environment. The report includes over 60 tips for organisations on how to strategically use public relations when preparing for and responding to a crisis. 

CIPR President Rachel Roberts Chart.PR, MCIPR

The breadth of case studies in this guide demonstrates how public relations enables organisations to confidently communicate through difficult times. This guide demonstrates the versatility of public relations and how irrespective of the challenge faced by organisations, communications consistently acts as the bridge to enable organisations to inform and reassure their stakeholders. This guide will act as a great resource for all PR professionals as they scenario plan for the future and is a welcome addition to our industry knowledge resource. Thank you to all those who contributed to create the guide.

public relations case studies 2021

The case studies are award-winning entries from the Best COVID Response category of the 2021 CIPR Excellence Awards. 

  • Download the guide on the CIPR website

About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations

Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the world's only Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas with nearly 10,000 members.

The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).

Agility PR Solutions

2021 PR disasters in review—3 examples of crisis mismanagement

by Ronn Torossian | Oct 22, 2021 | Analysis , Public Relations

Falling business chart, failed business, businessman fell from the arrow

The list of everything going on in the world right now—from the pandemic to civil unrest and navigating through severe weather seasons—is endless. This set of events has had an overwhelming effect on people, and in these situations it is not always easy for organizations to see a clear path forward where communication strategies are concerned. It is apparent now that disasters and crises can hit at any time , and when one hits a business, how it responds in the immediate aftermath is crucial.

Today, PR practitioners responding to a  crisis PR  situation have to be especially vigilant to ensure that the modern media, with its reliance on social networking sites, doesn’t make the situation worse. Given below are examples of some questionable PR moves that teach valuable lessons on how to shepherd brands through chaos.

1) The impact of Instagram

A series of stories in The Wall Street Journal revealed how Facebook put profit over the health and safety of billions of its users. Threats by lawmakers to regulate the company followed. Facebook itself had been studying the effect of Instagram on its users since 2019, and an internal presentation on it had been revealed to the WSJ. The presentation showed how harmful the app can be for teenagers. If Facebook had released the research in 2019, this would have been an effective communication strategy .

2) Snickers ad in Spain

Snickers’ advertisement for its ice cream bars in Spain was withdrawn after it faced accusations of homophobia. The ad featured Spanish influencer Aless Gibaja ordering at a restaurant, wearing pink, and behaving in a stereotypically feminine manner. Once he eats a Snickers ice cream bar he is transformed into a bearded man before the Snickers tagline appears:  ‘You are not you when you are hungry’. The website LGBTQnation.com called the ad “shameful and pitiful.” The brand issued an apology and removed the online content. Since these days there is much emphasis put on freedom and individuality, the ad caused a miscommunication which could have been avoided.

3) Ronaldo and Coca Cola

During a pre-match press conference, Ronaldo noticed that two bottles of Coca Cola were in front of him. He removed the soft drinks from the view of the cameras and replaced them with a bottle of water. He held up the bottle of water before setting it down and said ‘Aqua’  in an apparent attempt to urge people to drink water instead of Coca Cola. The company lost $4 billion in value. Coca Cola acted calmly, noting that players had every right to choose their beverage.

Such challenges show that remaining silent in the face of  crisis PR  issues is not an option. By identifying crises and addressing them effectively , it will be easier to navigate difficult roads ahead.

Ronn Torossian


7 benefits of building authentic relationships with influencers

  • 7 benefits of building authentic relationships with influencers

In today's digital landscape, influencer marketing stands as a formidable tool for brands aiming to reach target audiences and build brand awareness. However, just investing in popular influencers isn't enough. Consumers are looking for authenticity and can easily...

The perennial problem PR people have promoting their Olympics sponsors—and how to fix it

  • The perennial problem PR people have promoting their Olympics sponsors—and how to fix it

The Paris Olympics Games (July 26-August 11) are almost here, and account staffers on brand Olympics programs have a problem—how to gain earned media for their clients. It’s a perennial problem because most journalists I know believe that Olympics programs resemble...

Maximizing the impact of influencer marketing on consumer behavior

  • Maximizing the impact of influencer marketing on consumer behavior

Influencer marketing has emerged as a pivotal strategy in modern digital advertising, leveraging the popularity and authority of individuals with large followings on social media platforms to promote products and services. Unlike traditional celebrity endorsements,...



Your privacy & cookies.


  • The Magazine
  • Newsletters
  • Managing Yourself
  • Managing Teams
  • Work-life Balance
  • The Big Idea
  • Data & Visuals
  • Reading Lists
  • Case Selections
  • HBR Learning
  • Topic Feeds
  • Account Settings
  • Email Preferences

Public relations

  • Business management
  • Corporate communications
  • Crisis communication
  • Internal communication

Oil and Troubled Waters

  • Nicholas Beale
  • From the November 2005 Issue

public relations case studies 2021

Win Community Approval for New Business Construction

  • P Michael Saint
  • May 29, 2015

Tiger Woods and the Coming Decline of Celebrity Endorsements

  • Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  • December 14, 2009

More Lessons from Lexus-Why It Pays to Do the Right Thing

  • Bill Taylor
  • December 12, 2007

The Other Factor that Makes an Idea Spread

  • Julianne Wurm
  • February 17, 2014

Profits with a Purpose: An Interview with Tom Chapman

  • Nancy A. Nichols
  • From the November–December 1992 Issue

public relations case studies 2021

The Flawed Art of Lance Armstrong's Confession

  • Dorie Clark
  • January 18, 2013

When Your Brand Is Racist (HBR Case Study)

  • Joseph C. Miller
  • Michael A. Stanko
  • Mariam D. Diallo
  • November 01, 2020

How Can British Airways Recover from the Terminal 5 Disaster?

  • Gill Corkindale
  • April 01, 2008

public relations case studies 2021

The Real Story of the Fake Story of One of Europe's Most Charismatic CEOs

  • Ludovic François
  • Dominique Rouziès
  • July 18, 2018

public relations case studies 2021

What CEOs Should Know About Speaking Up on Political Issues

  • Leslie Gaines-Ross
  • February 17, 2017

Upgrade Your Company’s Image—and Valuation

  • James McNeill Stancill
  • From the January 1984 Issue

public relations case studies 2021

What I Learned From 10 Years of Doing PR for Apple

  • Cameron Craig
  • July 27, 2016

Memo to Detroit’s CEOs: Less Head, More Heart

  • December 09, 2008

public relations case studies 2021

When Your Brand Is Racist (Commentary for HBR Case Study)

  • Geoff Edwards

The Hyatt Housekeeper Outrage: Is Business the New Enemy?

  • Paul Michelman
  • September 29, 2009

public relations case studies 2021

Your Corporate Purpose Will Ring Hollow If the Company's Actions Don't Back It Up

  • Graham Kenny
  • August 29, 2018

Of Goldman Sachs, the Yankees, and Level Playing Fields

  • Ron Ashkenas
  • November 20, 2009

Taking the Cake

  • From the March 2004 Issue

public relations case studies 2021

Whatever Happened to Corporate Stewardship?

  • Rick Wartzman
  • August 29, 2014

public relations case studies 2021

Research: Why Companies Should Disclose Their Lack of Progress on DEI

  • Evan Apfelbaum
  • June 03, 2024

public relations case studies 2021

How Companies Should Weigh In on a Controversy

  • David M. Bersoff
  • Sandra J. Sucher
  • Peter Tufano
  • From the March–April 2024 Issue

public relations case studies 2021

Corporate Crises — and Reputational Recovery — Have Changed

  • December 12, 2023

public relations case studies 2021

When Should Your Company Weigh In on Hot-Button Issues?

  • Sally Susman
  • April 03, 2023

public relations case studies 2021

What Companies Still Get Wrong About Layoffs

  • Marilyn Morgan Westner
  • December 08, 2022

public relations case studies 2021

Case Study: Does Facial Recognition Tech Enhance Security?

  • Mary C. Gentile
  • David Danks
  • Maralee Harrell
  • From the November–December 2022 Issue

Does Facial Recognition Tech Enhance Security? (HBR Case Study)

  • November 01, 2022

Does Facial Recognition Tech Enhance Security? (Commentary for HBR Case Study)

  • Joseph Steinberg
  • Cedric L. Alexander

public relations case studies 2021

Moderna v. Pfizer: What the Patent Infringement Suit Means for Biotech

  • Scott Berinato
  • September 16, 2022

public relations case studies 2021

Don’t Let Your Calendar Dictate Your DEI Initiatives

  • Nani Vishwanath
  • June 20, 2022

public relations case studies 2021

3 Ways Marketers Can Earn — and Keep — Customer Trust

  • Christine Alemany
  • June 03, 2022

public relations case studies 2021

Research: Why CEOs Shouldn’t Take All the Credit

  • Nandini Rajagopalan
  • Sun Hyun Park
  • Sung Hun (Brian) Chung
  • May 31, 2022

public relations case studies 2021

What To Do When the Devil Wears [Your Brand]

  • Nico Neumann
  • Catherine Tucker
  • May 25, 2022

public relations case studies 2021

The Success of Your M&A Deal Hinges on How You Announce It

  • Mark L. Sirower
  • Jeff M. Weirens
  • April 27, 2022

Making Purpose Real

  • Jonathan Knowles
  • B. Tom Hunsaker
  • Hannah Grove
  • Alison James
  • Ranjay Gulati
  • Nick Dalton
  • Patrick Hull
  • William R. Kerr
  • Darrell K. Rigby
  • Steve Berez
  • March 01, 2022

public relations case studies 2021

What Is the Purpose of Your Purpose?

  • From the March–April 2022 Issue

public relations case studies 2021

How Companies Can Address Their Historical Transgressions

  • Sarah Federman
  • From the January–February 2022 Issue

public relations case studies 2021

Corporate Political Spending Is Bad Business

  • Dorothy S. Lund
  • Leo E Strine

public relations case studies 2021

Sports and Social Justice

  • Ramsey Khabbaz
  • From the January–February 2021 Issue

public relations case studies 2021

Toyota Recalls (A): Hitting the Skids

  • John A. Quelch
  • Carin-Isabel Knoop
  • Ryan Johnson
  • October 19, 2010

Southwire and 12 For Life: Scaling Up? (A)

  • Jan W. Rivkin
  • October 21, 2013

Siemens Corp. (B): Corporate Advertising for 1996

  • Stephen A. Greyser
  • Norman Klein
  • June 24, 1996

Kickoff: The Launch of Los Angeles Football Club

  • Jeremy B. Dann
  • June 05, 2020

public relations case studies 2021

Collision Course: Carlos Ghosn and the Culture Wars That Upended an Auto Empire

  • Hans Greimel
  • William Sposato
  • June 22, 2021

Tesla Motors: Burning Up the Road to Market Domination or Doom

  • Dante Pirouz
  • Karam Putros
  • February 04, 2014

Brooke Correll and Clos Du Val: Adventures in Napa Valley (A) and (B) (Condensed)

  • Marian Moore
  • February 02, 2011

Ashland Oil, Inc.: Trouble at Floreffe (C)

  • Pittsburgh Pittsburgh
  • February 06, 1990

Southwest Airlines (D)

  • Christopher H. Lovelock
  • September 01, 1975

Too Chicken to Convert? A Chick-Fil-A Dilemma

  • Matthew Thomson
  • Seung Hwan (Mark) Lee
  • October 08, 2013

Ashland Oil, Inc.: Trouble at Floreffe (A)

  • Kenneth E. Goodpaster
  • Anne K. Delehunt
  • January 19, 1990

NASA After Challenger: Restoring an Image

  • August 30, 1990

The Krem Spacemaker Coffeemaker

  • September 01, 2000

IKEA's Global Sourcing Challenge: Indian Rugs and Child Labor (B)

  • Christopher A. Bartlett
  • Vincent Dessain
  • Anders Sjoman
  • May 03, 2006

Toshiba: Accounting Fraud

  • Anupam Mehta
  • June 27, 2016

Carrefour China and the Olympic Torch Relay: Managing Corporate Crisis amid Evolving Expectations of Multinational Firms

  • Kineta Hung
  • Candise Pong-Wa Wai
  • February 09, 2009

Loss Prevention at Mac's Convenience Stores (B)

  • Francesca Gino
  • Katherine DeCelles
  • Olivia Hull
  • November 16, 2017
  • John R. Wells
  • Monika Stachowiak
  • February 10, 2005

Safeway, Inc.'s Leveraged Buyout (C): Media Response

  • Karen H. Wruck
  • Steve-Anna Stephens
  • June 02, 1994

Elon Musk's Big Bets Update, 2019

  • David B. Yoffie
  • Daniel Fisher
  • May 14, 2019

Popular Topics

Partner center.

Logo for British Columbia/Yukon Open Authoring Platform

Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.

Case Study #7: Naomi Osaka’s Public (and Private) Approach to Mental Health

By Pruistin Ramadhan, 2024

Naomi Osaka is a four-time grand slam tennis champion, making her one of the best players the world has ever seen. Owing in large part to her skills and fame, she has gained enormous popularity. However, after receiving overwhelming fame in the media spotlight, she had to deal with mental issues that compromised her play on the court. Although she was obligated to participate in a press conference during the French Open in 2021, Osaka decided to skip it.

The French Open threatened to fine her $15,000 because she declined to participate in any press conferences during the tournament (Suliman, 2021). Other grand slam tournaments then threatened that she could be suspended. Osaka then decided to take a break from tennis to recharge her mental health (Carayol, 2021), a decision that garnered negative media coverage and public criticism.

Action and Analysis

Naomi Osaka’s initial announcement that she did not want to participate in a press conference precipitated a PR crisis. Her initial announcement was criticized by both the media and the public (Carayol, 2021).

After facing a fine and suspension from the French Open, she finally wanted to talk to the media. Osaka’s public relations team did a good job, but only after the initial crisis did they finally try to manage it. Her PR team addressed the public, stating that her withdrawal from the French Open was due to her mental health. They had several key actions in response to this crisis. Her PR team’s first step was to publicly support Osaka’s decision to prioritize her mental health. This action validated Osaka’s feelings and PR message.

When crafting their message for the media, her team crafted it for the tournament organizers, as this group had the most interest in the outcome, vaulting them into the position of being Osaka’s primary audience. The secondary audience was sponsors, supporters, and Osaka’s fellow athletes. And, of course, this was a topic of general interest as the story circulated in mainstream news and social media, as well.

To get her message out, Osaka targeted Time Magazine , a major international publication—and arguably the top news magazine in America . She penned an essay with a title that captured both her personal journey and her message to her target audiences: “It’s O.K. Not to Be O.K.” (Osaka, 2021). This essay earned her the front cover of the magazine, pairing her picture and the words, displayed publicly in front of millions of subscribers, as well as anybody who saw the magazine cover as they shopped.

The encoded slogan-like headline from Osaka’s PR team conveyed her key message, which is that people deserve time to care for their mental health. In her Time essay, she was transparent about her journey in tennis and her struggle with mental health. First, she apologized for the inconvenience caused by her non-participation and clarified that the press themselves were never the issue, but rather that the traditional format of the press conference was the issue (Osaka, 2021). Osaka mentioned that she had never been media trained, so the reporters would get what they saw (Osaka, 2021). Osaka’s essay then argued how the sports world can improve in the future to support athletes’ mental health.

Pressured to disclose her symptoms because the press and the tournament did not believe her (Osaka, 2021), Osaka wanted the press and tournament organizers to be more understanding and humane towards athletes. Osaka listed fellow athletes Michael Phelps, Steph Curry, and Novak Djokovic, as well as Michelle Obama—all household names—who had supported her in her mental health journey (Osaka, 2021). By mentioning these influential people, she gained respect and validity in her response to the crisis. In her closing statement, she continuously thanked everyone who had supported her.

Lessons from Naomi Osaka’s PR Team

Being transparent and acknowledging vulnerability can humanize public figures and make them more relatable to the general public. By taking this approach and supporting their client, Osaka’s PR team was able to be ethical in conveying their messages. A mental health need can occur in anyone in any profession. Because the authentic communication made Naomi Osaka more relatable, people empathized with her and understood what she was going through.

The team crafted an authentic message that involved emotions and reasoning towards her departure from the French Open. By connecting the message and the emotions, audiences empathized and saw her as credible and trustworthy. Her PR team partnered with professionals in the mental health field to get the resources that she needed. In her messages, she also educated the tournament organizers and the public about athletes’ mental health, letting them know that athletes have the same basic needs as any other person. At the end of the day, Naomi Osaka empowered families to navigate mental health better (Palumbo, 2023). Because of her PR team, Osaka was able to help people who struggle with mental health and she was able to defend and even further her credibility, even rebuilding positive relationships with the media again.

Naomi Osaka became the face of mental health in the sports industry. She advocated for mental health and helped break stigmas surrounding mental health needs in sports. In doing so, she gained trust and respect from the community and the media could change their perspective towards her. By educating the public about the importance of mental health, the tournament organizer and her supporters supported her decision.

What can be Improved

Naomi Osaka’s PR team could have been more proactive in managing the crisis. They could have minimized the negative outcomes by more immediately developing messages that related to Osaka’s mental health struggles. There should have been a better communication channel to communicate her struggles with press conferences. There was a miscommunication where the media saw her as the antagonist because she did not want to do any press conferences. There could have been a more open dialogue with the tournament organization so that the issue of fines could have been pre-empted. Naomi Osaka’s PR effort could also do more to collaborate with mental health organizations to support her case.

Because Naomi Osaka’s decision to step away from the French Open threatened her career in tennis, her PR team needed a way to connect the client emotionally to a range of audiences. Because her PR team was able to identify who their audiences were, they were able to craft an authentic message that directly spoke to the media and tournament organizer to gain their sympathy. Osaka’s personal recovery paralleled her professional recovery and changed the narrative of both the experience of athletes and the need for organizations to account for the mental health needs of their stakeholders.

The PR lesson this story tells is about the success of open, transparent communication and the importance of establishing an authentic emotional connection between a public figure and their audience. And, in the end, Osaka won this PR crisis game, set, and match.

Carayol, T. (2021, June 4). French Open’s response to Naomi Osaka is a shameful moment for tennis. The Guardian . https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/jun/01/french-open-hastened-naomi-osaka-exitbut-also-refused-tricky-questions-tennis

Osaka, N. (2021, July 8). Naomi Osaka: ‘It’s O.K. not to be O.K.’ Time Magazine . https://time.com/6077128/naomi-osaka-essay-tokyo-olympics/

Palumbo, J. (2023, August 21). How Naomi Osaka is helping empower families to better navigate mental health. Forbes . https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferpalumbo/2023/08/21/how-naomi-osaka-is-helping-empower-families-to-better-navigate-mental-health/?sh=30227d3733cb

Suliman, A. (2021, June 2). Osaka’s withdrawal throws mental health into sports spotlight. NBC News . https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/naomi-osaka-s-withdrawal-throws-athletes-mental-health-sports-spotlight-n1269300

Public Relations Case Studies: Strategies & Actions Copyright © by Sam Schechter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book

  • Public Relations
  • Social Media
  • Case Studies
  • Measuring Success
  • Join the Cast
  • Caster Blog
  • Caster Client Newsroom

public relations case studies 2021

Lessons From The PR Fails of 2021 (So Far)

By Caster Communications | June 25, 2021 | blog , in the news , PRFail , social media

Ah, the dreaded #PRFail: we’ve all seen our share. Sometimes, the hashtag is attached to a thoughtless publicity stunt on social media; sometimes, it’s a serious crisis, handled poorly.  As public relations professionals, it’s our job to analyze how corporate communications are likely to make the audience feel so we can avoid PR fails. For every message, every time, we should take a moment to ask:

  • What is the purpose of this statement?
  • How will this be perceived?
  • Could this potentially damage the brand?

These questions are more urgent than ever. We are on the tail end of a global pandemic: stuck inside, people have been spending a lot of time scrolling social media. At the same time, increased political involvement across the ideology spectrum has given rise to large numbers of Internet activists primed to call out any mistake. The likelihood and cost of a #PRFail have both increased.

Finding the balance between drawing attention to your message and avoiding offense can be tricky. During the first half of 2021, we’ve seen questionable PR moves from a few prominent brands. Today, the Caster Crew weighs in on the brands’ intended messages, and what they could have done better.

Burger King – “Women belong in the kitchen.”

public relations case studies 2021

Burger King replied to the tweet, adding that women “belong in the kitchen” because they should be encouraged to pursue a culinary career if they choose to. The clarification did little to avert a massive backlash.

Burger King intended to shock, but not to offend. “This is a classic case of burying the lede,” says Rachel Bradshaw, VP of Account Services. “Burger King wanted to grab people’s attention, and they succeeded—the problem is, that jarring first tweet is the only thing that got amplified. Their actual message of empowerment was lost.”

Peloton – “The product is safe when warnings and safety instructions are followed.”

public relations case studies 2021

When the public decides that a product is dangerous, it’s usually more effective to address the concerns than argue. Peloton could have taken quick action by recalling the product. Instead, they chose to fight the claims.

Caster Account Services team member Lexie observes that brands need to listen to their voices of their audience: “Companies and those representing them need to hold themselves accountable for their actions, their products and services, and the words they use. When it comes to managing a crisis or any campaign for that matter, honesty, clear communication, and action are more valuable than deflection.”

Volkswagen – April Foolishness

public relations case studies 2021

This was an April Fool’s prank clearly intended as publicity stunt for Volkswagen’s new electronic lineup. Such “jokes” aren’t necessarily harmless, though, especially when they’re designed to dupe the press into taking them seriously.

“I’ve pretty much learned to expect that all communications timed around April 1 are a ‘joke,’ but there’s something especially off-putting about a phony press release leak,” says Director, Account Services, Pete Girard. “As PR pros, providing releases with relevant news to media and press friendlies is a big part of our job. Anyone promoting a fake press release ‘as a joke’ is abusing the press’s trust.”

This release was calibrated and timed to look like a legitimate story. Real people spent real time covering its implications. Then, the next day, they were made to feel foolish – by a company that will rely on them for coverage for the rest of the year.

All three of these missteps were avoidable using the questions we posed at the beginning:

  • What is the purpose of this statement? Examine if the message serves the brand’s short and long-term goals.  For example, Volkswagen’s fake press release was a marketing scheme, but they may not have considered how damaging their press relationships could hinder their communications strategy for the rest of the year.
  • How will this be perceived? Remember that you cannot control the context in which your message is repeated. In Burger King’s case, overall, the company should have considered how the tweet would look when retweeted or screenshot on its own.
  • Could this potentially damage the brand? Sometimes, you’re caught in a lose-lose situation, and you must critically assess what kind of damage matters most. In Peloton’s case, they wanted to avoid a costly recall, but they could afford the loss of customer trust even less. Ultimately, a recall was inevitable, and Peloton predicts a $165M revenue impact as a result. The two-month delay from the start of the crisis to the decision to recall meant higher recall costs for the machines sold in the interim, more injuries, and two months of continuing negative press.

Navigating the #PRFail minefield isn’t easy, but when all your messaging is thoughtful and purposeful, it’s possible. Connect with us on Twitter at @castercomm to see how we do it.

< Previous

How to nurture company culture, coming home to a place i’ve never been, ready to shine, we believe you're ready for greatness, and we can't wait to help you shine..

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. By viewing our content, you are accepting the use of cookies. To help us insure we adhere to various privacy regulations, please select your country/region of residence. If you do not select a country we will assume you are from the United States. View our privacy policy and terms of use.

  • Advertising
  • Content Marketing
  • Crisis Management


Tips For Killer PR Case Studies

ImPRessions - Crenshaw Communications

APRIL 15, 2021

Every PR person knows that strong customer case studies are powerful additions to the B2B PR toolkit. A great case study can actually help move prospects down the sales funnel to the point where they’re ready to buy. Anatomy of a successful customer case study . They also work well for sales and marketing.

public relations case studies 2021

[Case Study] How Proteus Builds Brand with Earned Media

OCTOBER 21, 2019

Proteus and its PR agency, W2O, are building a brand and a category simultaneously. In this case study , learn how Proteus builds awareness and understanding using earned media amplification. The post [ Case Study ] How Proteus Builds Brand with Earned Media appeared first on Onclusive.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Trending Sources

  • Business Wire

Remote PR Jobs

  • The Resolution Blog

PR for Anyone

  • Mindful Marketing

article thumbnail

3 Ways to Give Your Brand a Personality

JULY 11, 2024

In today's saturated market, brands face the challenge of rising above an ever-increasing number of competitors. However, one universal strategy to ensure your company stands out is to humanize the brand , imbuing it with a unique personality that resonates with target audiences. They know what they are and they own it. Innovative?

article thumbnail

[Case Study] Messaging & Media Relations for an Award-Winning IPO – Livongo

MARCH 11, 2020

Download this case study to learn how Livongo: . How they used differentiated messaging to increase brand awareness in preparation for their IPO. The post [ Case Study ] Messaging & Media Relations for an Award-Winning IPO – Livongo appeared first on Onclusive. Complete Form To Learn More.

article thumbnail

5 Tech Brand Case Studies That Will Inspire You

Contently - Strategy

JANUARY 24, 2022

With strategic content methodologies, intuitive engagement metrics, and a remarkable talent network, Contently helps these brands optimize their content to tell great stories and see quantifiable results that a lackluster new year’s resolution just can’t deliver. If you’re looking to expand your content, you’re in the right place.

article thumbnail

What you need to know to write a client case study that counts

Agility PR Solutions

JUNE 21, 2023

In public relations and marketing, client case studies are a powerful tool. They’re a critical way for PR agencies and brands to demonstrate their value in a specific way that readers can grasp.

article thumbnail

Benefits of Social Listening for PR Agencies (with Case Studies)

JANUARY 31, 2024

Social listening is one of the easiest ways to track how a brand is perceived online. If you’re a PR agency struggling to get a seat at the table and prove the effectiveness of […] The post Benefits of Social Listening for PR Agencies (with Case Studies ) appeared first on Prowly Blog.

article thumbnail

Crisis case study: How to turn an employee lawsuit into a brand disaster

AUGUST 15, 2021

The post Crisis case study : How to turn an employee lawsuit into a brand disaster appeared first on Agility PR Solutions. Before the scheduled walkout, the employees shared a statement of intent, which announced the walkout and criticized the company itself for the response to the […].

article thumbnail

REWIND Case Study: Teletubbies

Konnect Agency

MARCH 13, 2024

Through a comprehensive 360-marketing campaign encompassing media mailers, press coverage, a National Weather Channel media tour, social content, and a grand LA launch event with celebrity host Alfonso Ribeiro, Konnect successfully garnered national attention for this iconic re-launched brand .

article thumbnail

REWIND Case Study: Lenny & Larry’s

MARCH 20, 2024

PROJECT DATE: 2022 THE PROJECT: With a goal of increasing brand awareness for The BOSS! Immunity Bar for the Lenny & Larry’s Brand , Konnect launched the Ultimate BOSS! The full course was branded by Lenny & Larry’s , complete with a mud crawl, cargo wall and tire flip. Cookie and newly launched The BOSS!

article thumbnail

Get Famous Friday: Branding Case Study

OCTOBER 25, 2019

This week I want to give you a case study . Hi everybody. It’s Christina Daves with this week’s Get Famous Friday PR Tip. I like to incorporate these into the tips so that you can get creative and see how you could do something similar. You know, these are real-world examples of my clients who […].

article thumbnail

The Anatomy of a Great Case Study

At Ogilvy, I was a member of the four-person case study writing committee. We won Most Effective Agency Office in New York relying on the tried and true case study framework: objective, strategy, results. Quantifiable objectives headlined every case study we wrote. Visuals need to be on brand .

article thumbnail

Case Study: Bauer

JUNE 2, 2020

CASE STUDY . How Bauer Media uses NewsWhip to unify content strategy across all of their brands . CHALLENGE: How can media conglomerates unify content strategy across all of their brands to better engage audiences? Ali Wilkinson, Digital Content Manager. —. Company Size. 1,000+ employees. ” . —. Read more.

article thumbnail

COVID case study: Heinz presents a pitch-perfect quarantine plan

MAY 18, 2020

With stay-at-home orders extending into their second month for many areas, it is essential that brands investigate how to pivot their messaging and stay relevant to their audiences. The post COVID case study : Heinz presents a pitch-perfect quarantine plan appeared first on Agility PR Solutions.

article thumbnail

Media Monitoring Case Study: How US Media Covered Depp vs. Heard Defamation Trial In 2022

JUNE 15, 2022

Now you can keep your digital ear to ground 24/7, listen for mentions of your brand , organization or any keywords you want and get access to detailed reports about the amount and kind of coverage you’re getting. […]. We recently released our own dedicated media monitoring service as yet another addition to the Prowly PR toolbox.

article thumbnail

Case Study Turbine Labs

CASE STUDY . Turbine Labs, a new player in the marketing game, offers a fresh take on brand intelligence with a concentration on leveraging “small data” for big brands . We measure the reach, impact and value of consumer and media content and conversation in the context of the brand and its competitors. Company Size.

article thumbnail

How Monster Showcases the Brand and Business Impact of Public Relations in Critical Times

APRIL 26, 2021

As part of that change, Monster wanted to track their brand and competitive mentions online, on television and on radio to stay competitive with their earned, owned and newswire media coverage. The post How Monster Showcases the Brand and Business Impact of Public Relations in Critical Times appeared first on Onclusive.

article thumbnail

Civic branding case study—PR’s role in the growth of municipalities

JULY 4, 2018

The post Civic branding case study —PR’s role in the growth of municipalities appeared first on Agility PR Solutions. Today, municipalities across the U.S. are practicing many of PR’s same promotional and image-building strategies to position their cities and towns and garner top-of-mind awareness.

article thumbnail

Lessons from Managing a Cybersecurity Incident: A Case Study with Naren Aryal of Mascot Books

Melissa Agnes

AUGUST 8, 2019

Most often, we hear about the massive breaches that happen to the biggest of brands . A crisis is a negative incident that threatens long-term material impact on a brand ’s stakeholders, the environment, the economy, the business’s operations, reputation and/or its bottom line. *A

article thumbnail

Building a Global Media Brand with HubSpot [Case Study]

SEPTEMBER 29, 2020

Brands will need to become more human. The Results: From a Pilot Blog to a Global Media Brand . Thanks to HubSpot, Marketing AI Institute has grown from a simple blog into a global media brand . The approach isn’t just growing the brand’s audience. Career paths will evolve.

article thumbnail

Beware the crisis case study—why it’s not a good firm evaluation tool

OCTOBER 14, 2019

Then you’ve probably seen some pretty compelling case studies —big name brands , major wins and encouraging outcomes. Case studies are a legitimate marketing tool for communication agencies for lots of reasons but they have no place in demonstrating crisis management […]. All bright, shiny and safe.

article thumbnail

Case Study: Linking Strategies for Page Authority Growth Featuring Inseev x Truliant FCU

JULY 7, 2021

As you read through this case study , you’ll see the unique circumstances and outcomes that make a page authority growth approach the right fit for a given website. In an effort to start the campaign with as much momentum as possible, the initial focus was on branded opportunity. Branded Strategies. Non- Brand Strategies.

article thumbnail

What we learned from our 2023 brands report

FEBRUARY 3, 2023

We recently published our first brands report, which looked back at articles about some of the top brands across three different industries to draw conclusions about what resonated with the public and media in earned media coverage. Here’s some of what we learned, as well as a few tidbits that we couldn’t fit into the full report.

article thumbnail

2022: The Year of the Employer Brand Story

Shift Communications

FEBRUARY 1, 2022

Employer branding is your reputation and image as a place to work. Both directly shape how the public, as well as investors and customers, view the brand . Traditionally the employer story was a slightly adapted version of the company brand story. Proof of Brand Values. Here is why and how to best navigate the year ahead.

article thumbnail

Folgers case study sums up what big ad agencies always get wrong about social

Communications Conversations

FEBRUARY 11, 2022

Thomas, we discussed a case study . Folgers is trying to remake its brand a bit by ditching its iconic “Best part of waking up” jingle in favor of a famous Joan Jett song, “Bad Reputation.” This kind of “social activation” has become commonplace for brands like Folgers.

article thumbnail

5 Surefire Ways To Generate Quality Content For PR

AUGUST 18, 2021

Typically they’re articles or broadcast segments that feature a given company or brand in a positive way. But earned media doesn’t always achieve the frequency we need to promote client brands , and some stories have a lengthy gestation period. One form of content that works particularly well for B2B brands is the white paper.

article thumbnail

How to Build a Brand with Social Media

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

There is no easier way to build a brand than with social media. It’s an amazing tool to use to grow your brand . It is important that your brand is consistent across all of your platforms. If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you’ll realize that pink is a huge part of my brand . PR FOR ANYONE.

article thumbnail

The best influencer marketing case study you’ll never hear about

APRIL 2, 2019

You’ve read influencer marketing case studies . But believe me when I tell you, you’ve never seen an influencer marketing case study like the one I’m about to share with you (unless, of course, you’re a loyal listener of the Power Trip Morning Show on KFAN, in which case you’ll know everything by now).

article thumbnail

[Case Study] Lucidworks’ Clear Choice: Onclusive for PR Analytics

NOVEMBER 25, 2019

Lucidworks is a fast-growing company, working on creating a global brand and increasing category awareness for their platform that enables enterprises to connect users with the data that they need to make decisions. Download this case study to learn why they selected Onclusive as their PR analytics solution.

article thumbnail

Video: Two 2021 Podcast Marketing PR Case Studies Show How to Get Results


MAY 11, 2021

In this five-minute Podcast Marketing PR Case Studies video, Barbara Rozgonyi shows you how she used the power of WIRED PR in 4D to promote an event, a topic, and a speaker. At Podfest Global 2021, Barbara presented on Branding and Influence for podcasters. “As Podcast Marketing PR Case Studies video.

article thumbnail

Is this a nostalgic goodbye to the HARO brand? [PR Tech Sum 51]

Sword and the Script

JANUARY 9, 2024

HARO is a name universally recognized brand , so the rebrand doesn’t make sense to me at all. For example, I just pulled up a HARO email as I write this and found a query looking for case studies on CRM implementations. The new website and Twitter handle ( @helpareporter ) appear to confirm it.

article thumbnail

Measuring Earned Media Quality to Prove the Value of PR – Edmunds

OCTOBER 27, 2020

Edmunds is not just a category-leading brand in the automotive industry; it is also a top media publication that caters to both consumers and businesses. Download this case study to learn how Edmunds: . Quickly pivoted to launch their “COVID-19 Response” campaign addressing the most pressing customer needs.

article thumbnail

Twitch marketing cases: how brands get settled in Gamer Wonderland

MAY 27, 2021

In this article, we consider the perks of Twitch for brand promotion by examples of real case studies . On the other hand, this streaming platform attracts millions of people daily. It makes Twitch suitable for successful marketing campaigns.

article thumbnail

How to Optimize Messaging and Soundbites to Drive Success

JULY 22, 2021

Clear and compelling messaging is essential to achieving impact with marketing, communications and branding . Strategic messaging enables you to create brand awareness, convey who you are as a business to your intended audience and develop the emotional connection that influences purchases of your products and services.

article thumbnail

How to Create a Brand on Social Media ABC10

JUNE 22, 2021

PR Client : Jeff Hunter, Influencer and Branding Expert, JeffJHunter.com. Learning about how to brand yourself and also how to brand your business on social media is useful information. Here to fill us in on how you can build or maybe break your brand on social media is influencer and branding expert Jeff Hunter.

article thumbnail

The two brands leading the way with brand journalism during COVID might surprise you

MAY 20, 2020

The term “ brand journalism” is a bit of a lightning rod term in the social media marketing business. ” And, over the years, there have certainly been a fair share of corporate failures when it comes to brand journalism. But, for the most part, brand journalism wins have been tough to come by.

article thumbnail

Crisis Management 101: Shark Week Case Study, Pt. 1

JULY 19, 2017

As our VP of Marketing Tech previously summarized : In a crisis management situation, something has gone wrong and your brand is on fire. to help ensure his vegan donut business and brand reputation doesn’t suffer during or after Shark Week. The post Crisis Management 101: Shark Week Case Study , Pt. is suffering a crisis.

article thumbnail

How to Make your Messaging Stick

JULY 13, 2021

Automated & unibased: NEO offers automated, unbiased, data-driven feedback for understanding which brand messages should continue to be incorporated into future marketing and PR efforts and which ones need to be dropped. Read the full case study . Read the full case study . Read the full case study .

article thumbnail

Where can I find clients who need my PR services?

JULY 19, 2024

Trade Shows: These e vents where businesses showcase their products or services may offer an opportunity to connect directly with individuals or organizations in need of PR services to promote their brand and manage media relations. This not only enhances your credibility but also encourages referrals from satisfied clients and peers alike.

article thumbnail

[Case Study] How Overstock Uses Paid & Earned Media To Drive Brand Engagement

JANUARY 10, 2020

This was the sentiment of Overstock, who identified that some of its strongest brand messaging was in the form of earned media. Download this case study to learn why Overstock selected Onclusive to help them amplify their earned media and gain great insights into their customers. Complete Form To Learn More.

article thumbnail

How Speaking Opportunities Support B2B Companies

JULY 14, 2021

Here at Crenshaw, our client base of high-growth tech organizations have found that earned speaking opportunities and industry recognition build credibility and visibility for their brand . In many cases they support a path to a market leadership position. Support employer branding . Generate case study content.

article thumbnail

Microsoft Stories: Best brand storytelling site on the web?

SEPTEMBER 26, 2014

This is high, high quality brand storytelling folks. Microsoft may have figured out the key to fantastic brand storytelling–and I think it goes something like this… Your employees = personal stories. Many brands write these kinds of executive and employee stories. Forget about the brand for a moment.

Stay Connected

Join 59,000+ Insiders by signing up for our newsletter

  • Participate in Public Relations Today
  • Add a Source
  • Add a Resource
  • 2022 Public Relations Today MVP Awards
  • Thu. Jul 18
  • Wed. Jul 17
  • Tue. Jul 16
  • Mon. Jul 15
  • Jul 06 - Jul 12
  • Media Relations
  • Social Media
  • More Topics 

Input your email to sign up, or if you already have an account, log in here!

Enter your email address to reset your password. a temporary password will be e‑mailed to you., be in the know on.

public relations case studies 2021

Public Relations Today

Expert insights. Personalized for you.

We organize all of the trending information in your field so you don't have to. Join 59,000+ users and stay up to date on the latest articles your peers are reading.

public relations case studies 2021

Get the good stuff

Subscribe to the following Public Relations Today newsletters:

You must accept the Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions to proceed.


You know about us, now we want to get to know you!

Check your mail, we've sent an email to . please verify that you have received the email..

We have resent the email to

Let's personalize your content

Use social media to find articles.

We can use your profile and the content you share to understand your interests and provide content that is just for you.

Turn this off at any time. Your social media activity always remains private.

Let's get even more personalized

Choose topics that interest you., so, what do you do.

Are you sure you want to cancel your subscriptions?

Cancel my subscriptions

Don't cancel my subscriptions

Changing Country?

Accept terms & conditions.

It looks like you are changing your country/region of residence. In order to receive our emails, you must expressly agree. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails.

You appear to have previously removed your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions.


We noticed that you changed your country/region of residence; congratulations! In order to make this change, you must accept the Aggregage Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. Once you've accepted, then you will be able to choose which emails to receive from each site .

You must choose one option

Please choose which emails to receive from each site .

  • Update All Sites
  • Update Each Site

Please verify your previous choices for all sites

Sites have been updated - click Submit All Changes below to save your changes.

We recognize your account from another site in our network , please click 'Send Email' below to continue with verifying your account and setting a password.

You must accept the Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions to proceed.

This is not me

ACM Digital Library home

  • Advanced Search

Empowering Micro-Entrepreneurs through Artificial Intelligence: : A Conceptual Framework for AI-Based Marketing

New citation alert added.

This alert has been successfully added and will be sent to:

You will be notified whenever a record that you have chosen has been cited.

To manage your alert preferences, click on the button below.

New Citation Alert!

Please log in to your account

Information & Contributors

Bibliometrics & citations, view options, recommendations, exploratory insights on artificial intelligence for government in europe.

There is great interest to use artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to improve government processes and public services. However, the adoption of technologies has often been challenging for public administrations. In this article, the adoption of AI ...

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the Science and Engineering domain concerned with the theory and practice of developing systems that exhibit the characteristics we associate with intelligence in human behavior. Starting with a brief history of ...

How artificial intelligence can improve digital marketing

Recent technological advances have allowed the growth of digital marketing, creating the challenge of big data. AI emerges to deal with this paradigm and marketing becomes a natural beneficiary, as it takes advantage of data in its processes. This ...


Published in.

Elsevier Science Publishers B. V.


Publication History

Author tags.

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Delphi method
  • Digital Marketing
  • Digital Transformation
  • Framework model
  • Research-article


Other metrics, bibliometrics, article metrics.

  • 0 Total Citations
  • 0 Total Downloads
  • Downloads (Last 12 months) 0
  • Downloads (Last 6 weeks) 0

View options

Login options.

Check if you have access through your login credentials or your institution to get full access on this article.

Full Access

Share this publication link.

Copying failed.

Share on social media

Affiliations, export citations.

  • Please download or close your previous search result export first before starting a new bulk export. Preview is not available. By clicking download, a status dialog will open to start the export process. The process may take a few minutes but once it finishes a file will be downloadable from your browser. You may continue to browse the DL while the export process is in progress. Download
  • Download citation
  • Copy citation

We are preparing your search results for download ...

We will inform you here when the file is ready.

Your file of search results citations is now ready.

Your search export query has expired. Please try again.

The Effect of Customers’ Unethical Practices on Suppliers’ Intention to Continue Their Relationships

  • Original Paper
  • Open access
  • Published: 19 July 2024

Cite this article

You have full access to this open access article

public relations case studies 2021

  • Daniel Prajogo 1 ,
  • Brian Cooper 1 ,
  • Ross Donohue 1 &
  • Anand Nair 2  

This study examines inter-firm buyer–supplier relationships through an ethical lens. Drawing on the concept of reciprocity in social exchange theory as well as resource dependence theory, we examine the effect of customers’ unethical practices on their suppliers’ intention to continue their business relationships with their customers. Specifically, we distinguish two types of unethical practices: unfair business practices , which directly target suppliers and socially irresponsible practices , which have an impact on wider society. Integrating social exchange theory and resource dependence theory, we investigate the effects of two moderating factors: suppliers’ dependence on their customers and the benefits derived from the supplier–customer relationship . Using data obtained from 506 managers from small-to-medium-sized firms, our findings show that both customers’ unfair business practices and socially irresponsible practices have negative relationships with their suppliers’ intention to continue the relationships. These effects are moderated by supplier dependence and benefits derived from their customers. Overall, our study shows that intention to continue in these relationships, in response to unethical practices by customers, is bounded by supplier self-interest and resource dependence. Our study is one of the few to examine suppliers’ responses to unethical practices and our findings are consistent with the notion of weak reciprocity, rather than strong reciprocity that predominates in the literature.

Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.


Inter-firm relationships are critical to companies’ performance and thus have attracted extensive research attention, including in the supply chain field. Many studies have considered the determinants of successful relationships, such as trust, commitment, and social capital. However, there is evidence that many inter-firm relationships suffer from problems and do not last. A study published in Forbes shows that 47% of supplier collaborations fail, and, according to the Charted Institute of Procurement and Supply, 8 in 10 firms experience failure in their supplier relationships (Sangam, 2017 ). Some studies have identified a number of antecedents of exiting a relationship, including dissatisfaction, choice of an alternative business partner, low switching costs, conflict, goal incongruence, and loss of trust (Fawcett et al., 2015 ; Geyskens & Steenkamp, 2000 ; Ping, 1993 ; Tran et al., 2021 ). A number of studies have also looked at unethical practices of suppliers, including opportunistic behaviors (see, for example, Huo et al., 2016 ; Skowronski et al., 2020 ). However, one plausible, but understudied, cause of business-to-business (B2B) relationships (between buyer and supplier) breakdown is unethical practices undertaken by the customers.

In this paper, we define unethical practices by following the tradition identifying harm to others as a central moral concept (Gert, 2005 ; Shiffrin, 2012 ). Although causing harm to others is not the only way to conceptualize unethical practices, it has a classical foundation going as far back to Hobbes’ social contract theory and Mills’ liberal theory. The concept of harm to others is also central to many discussions in relation to corporate socially irresponsible practices, as elaborated below (Alcadipani & Medeiros, 2020 ; Campbell, 2007 ; Clark et al., 2022 ; Iborra & Riera, 2023 ). In the business ethics context, Cullinan et al. ( 2008 ) differentiate between organization-harm and organization-gain . Organization-harm refers to actions where the individual organizational decision-maker derives a benefit, while their employing organization is harmed (e.g., a decision-maker receiving a bribe to purchase material from a sub-standard supplier). Conversely, organization-gain refers to actions where the organization benefits, while parties external to the organization are harmed. Here our focus is on organization-gain where third parties (e.g., other firms or stakeholders) are harmed.

Our study is focused on suppliers’ responses to their perceived customers’ unethical practices in light of their intention to maintain or exit the (business) relationship with their customers. We focus on relationship exit as a response to aggression, that is, behavior intended to harm another individual who does not wish to be harmed (Baron & Richardson, 1994 ). While there are a number of factors that may cause an individual to act aggressively (frustration, trait anger, psychopathy, etc.), the findings of research conducted across a range of social psychology topics (justice/fairness, defensive attributions) converge to indicate that, when people perceive that they have been harmed, they tend to respond in three ways: they attempt to attribute blame, they express moral indignation, and they seek to mete out punishment for retribution. Exiting a relationship is an option that allows market participants to withdraw from otherwise unsatisfactory relationships, including those that are abusive or dominating (Taylor, 2017 ). We acknowledge that there are a range of responses that suppliers may adopt in response to unethical business practices perpetrated by customers, such as raising the issue with the leaders of the offending firm, taking legal action against breach of contract or lodging a complaint with authorities regarding unfair price agreements (see, for example, Klassen et al., 2023 ). However, here our focus is on exiting the relationship with the customer because failure of business-to-business relationships has been identified as a critical issue in terms of maintaining increasingly fragile supply chains as well as financial viability of firms in these relationships (Hill et al., 2009 ). By examining how unethical business practices affect relationship breakdown, we seek to provide insights to firms on the consequences of these practices and how to avoid relationship breakdown because this is an ultimate and essentially irrevocable outcome.

Only a few studies have examined unethical practices in inter-firm relationships and these have almost invariably focused on customers’ responses to the behaviors of suppliers. Each party contributes to the maintenance and continuance of a relationship and therefore this imbalance in the literature has left us largely ignorant of the effect of customers’ unethical practices on suppliers’ attitudes and intentions in terms of these relationships.

Taking the perspective of the supplier, we distinguish two types of unethical practices of customers:  behaviors directly targeting and harming a given supplier (e.g., delaying payment or use of obscure contract terms and conditions), which we refer to here as unfair business practices, and  behaviors that result in harm to other actors (stakeholders) in society, which, following Lin-Hi and Müller ( 2013 ), we refer to as socially irresponsible practices. In a broad sense, both types of practices bring harm, damage or loss to other parties (Iborra & Riera, 2023 ). However, we argue they are different in terms of the primary party that is targeted or impacted by the actions, but this important difference has been ignored in the literature. Unfair business practices have a direct negative or harmful effect on suppliers’ interests (e.g., profitability). On the other hand, while socially irresponsible practices of the customer (such as polluting the environment or paying low wages) may not have an immediate direct effect on the supplier, these socially deviant behaviors do have a wider impact on society (and may cause indirect harm to the supplier, for example, in terms of negative reputational effects). The present study is the first to our knowledge to empirically compare these two types of unethical practices of customers: unfair business practices directly targeted toward the supplier and socially irresponsible practices that impact on other stakeholders.

In examining suppliers’ response to the unethical practices by customers, we consider two conditioning factors that could influence their response: (a) suppliers’ dependence on their customers and (b) the material benefits suppliers derive from their business relationships with their customers. To the best of our knowledge, there are no prior studies that have specifically examined the conditioning factors on suppliers’ response toward customers’ unethical behaviors. Drawing upon resource dependence theory (RDT), we propose that suppliers’ dependence reflects the importance of their customers—for example, due to a high proportion of the volume or the value of business (i.e., sales) gained from their customers or the length of their relationships with the customers or the lack of alternative customers in the market. The more dependent a supplier is on the customer, the more difficult it will be for the supplier to exit the relationship and to replace the customer, due to high switching costs (Mir et al., 2017 ). By contrast, the benefits derived from a customer can come in forms other than sales revenue. For example, the customer can help the supplier penetrate new markets or establish a reputation that provides the supplier with a competitive advantage (Kumar et al., 1992 ). We propose that both suppliers’ dependence on their customers and the benefits derived by the suppliers’ relationships with their customers could impede the suppliers’ intention to exit their relationships, despite the unethical practices exhibited by the customers.

As well as responding to the call for studies on the problem of failed inter-firm relationships, our study of the effects of unethical practices by powerful actors perpetrated against those who are more vulnerable broadly addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, peace, justice, and strong institutions, as well as partnerships for the goals. In addition, our study offers several specific contributions. First, while the supply chain literature has examined failures in buyer–supplier relationships, most focus on the customers’ perspective where customers terminate the relationship with suppliers for various reasons (Huo et al., 2016 ; Skowronski et al., 2020 ). Our study seeks to extend these studies by examining the under-researched dynamic of buyer–supplier relationships from the suppliers’ perspective. In a relationship, the party with greater power or control is more likely to engage in unethical practices (Hawkins et al., 2013 ). Hence, in circumstances where the customer is in a stronger bargaining position, their unethical behaviors are salient, but remain largely unknown. Examination of customers’ unethical behavior is important, particularly in light of high-profile cases. One prominent example is the case of General Motors, that not only demanded price concessions from suppliers for upcoming seasons, but also misused its market power to cancel and renegotiate existing contracts (Schleper et al., 2017 ). There have also been documented cases of customers engaging in unethical practices impacting suppliers in the retail (Goolam Nabee & Swanepoel, 2021 ) and transportation sectors (Kim et al., 2022 ).

Secondly and importantly, our study examines the consequences of unethical business practices perpetrated by customers. Specifically, we examine the suppliers’ responses in terms of their intention to maintain or exit their relationships with their customers, as well as the conditional factors which can influence (moderate) their intention. Most studies have examined the buyer–supplier relationship from a principal-agent perspective that positions customers as principals and suppliers as agents (Matinheikki et al., 2022 ). In their review, Matinheikki et al. ( 2022 ) found only a handful of studies that have approached principal-agent issues from an agent perspective, and they suggest that agents (suppliers) suffer from poor performance as a result of unfair treatment from the principals (customers). Yet these studies did not examine how suppliers respond to the unethical practices of customers.

Thirdly, by distinguishing unfair practices that directly harm suppliers’ immediate interests from socially irresponsible practices, which bring damage to the wider society (and may indirectly impact suppliers through reputational effects), we examine whether both types of unethical practices are considered as equally serious for continuation of the buyer–supplier relationship. Differentiating between the effects of these two types of unethical practices will contribute to our understanding of how suppliers respond to these practices.

Fourth, by incorporating conditioning factors that potentially affect suppliers’ responses to customers’ unethical practices, we advance our knowledge regarding possible boundary conditions. Here we focus on dependence and the benefits derived from the customer as boundary conditions which, based on our theorizing, we believe can influence suppliers’ intention to continue the relationship. Although some studies have employed social exchange theory (SET) to understand supplier–customer relationships (Griffith et al., 2006 ; Narasimhan et al., 2009 ), we integrate SET, specifically the concept of negative reciprocity (Blau, 1964 ) and RDT (Pfeffer & Salancik, 2003 ), to provide new insights. In particular, we show how suppliers’ self-interest and dependence on their customers may moderate their response to unethical practices and we shed light on why suppliers continue these relationships. While supplier–customer relationships involve economic exchange, these are typically enduring and frequent interactions that are built upon trust and loyalty. Hence, there is an important element of social exchange, which is absent in one-off transactions between economic actors (Blau, 1964 ; Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2005 ).

Finally, our study contributes to our understanding of business ethics in the supply chain context, particularly with regard to small-to-medium-sized (SME) suppliers, which is the focus of this study. SMEs, due to their size and limited resources, are more likely to have a lower bargaining power position with their customers relative to large enterprises (Moatti et al., 2015 ) that makes them particularly vulnerable to unethical practices from other parties, including customers. Issues relating to dominant behavior and bullying practices by customers in supply chains in the context of smaller-sized suppliers, in particular, are not well understood (Lumineau & Oliveira, 2020 ), and therefore our study provides practical insights regarding the reasons why supplier–customer relationships fail and the circumstances under which they continue.

Theoretical Background and Hypotheses

Unfair business practices by customers and suppliers’ responses.

In defining customer unfair business practices, we draw upon the study by Kim et al. ( 2022 ) who defined such practices as customers’ abuse of their bargaining power to maximize their interests by exploiting suppliers who are in a weaker position. These are commonly labeled as opportunistic behaviors (Oliveira & Lumineau, 2019 ). The concept of opportunistic behaviors originated from the work of Williamson ( 1993 ), who defined it as self-interest seeking with guile. In this regard, customers may conduct certain practices that serve their interests unfairly, which often result in loss on the suppliers’ side (Crosno & Dahlstrom, 2008 ). For example, the study by Aßländer and Roloff ( 2010 ) of the automotive industry in Germany revealed a number of unethical practices by customers directed toward their suppliers. These included renegotiating contracts during the contract period, adjusting the size of the order to suit their changed needs, and falsely stating that they had found a cheaper supplier elsewhere to force the current suppliers to accept extremely small margins (Fig.  1 ).

figure 1

Research model

Following Giddens ( 1979 ), however, we acknowledge that power is pervasive in all social relationships where it has a transformative capacity to change the social and material world that can lead to positive or negative outcomes. As such, customers exercise their bargaining power over suppliers not exclusively to gain advantages from suppliers unfairly, but also to produce positive outcomes. In this study, we focus on the dark side of the use (or to be precise, abuse) of power by customers to gain an unfair advantage over their suppliers. Actions such as delaying payment and forcing changes in contract conditions represent buyers’ attempts to extract unfair advantages from their suppliers (Nyaga et al., 2013 ; Schleper et al., 2017 ).

Under a consequentialist model of ethical decision making, such harmful behaviors clearly constitute unethical practices which may affect the suppliers’ intention to continue their relationships with their customers. Here we draw upon SET and specifically the concept of negative reciprocity to frame our thinking. Negative reciprocity occurs when an action that has a negative effect on one party is returned with an action of a similar kind by the affected party (Blau, 1964 ). In this case, customers’ unfair business practices that directly harm suppliers’ interests may undermine suppliers’ intention to continue these open-ended relationships. While the intention to exit a business relationship with an abusive customer could arise to protect the supplier from future (and possibly greater) damage arising from the customer’s actions, we believe that it also serves as a punishment to the customer, for example by imposing high switching costs. Moreover, the potential effect of the punishment can even be greater if we consider the fact that the supplier can also communicate negative information about the customer (‘word-of-mouth’) to other suppliers (or potential suppliers), leading to reputational damage (Hill et al., 2009 ). More generally, negative reciprocity, as a form of retaliatory behavior, may not only be motivated by expected future material benefits (or reductions in harm), but also by a desire to maintain equity in the relationship, even if it occurs at a personal cost (Fehr & Gächter, 2000 ). Therefore, a decreased intention to continue the relationship with the customer (due to their unfair or opportunistic business practices) is likely to reflect the negative reciprocity of the supplier, and, accordingly, we hypothesize:

H 1 : Unfair business practices by customers are negatively associated with suppliers’ intention to continue the relationship with their customers.

Socially Irresponsible Business Practices by Customers and Suppliers’ Response

As discussed above, socially irresponsible business practices cause harm to various stakeholders in the wider society. Socially irresponsible practices such as poor wages and poor conditions for workers, child labor, price fixing, and environmental pollution have been noted in the literature. Several serious socially irresponsible practices conducted by large companies have even attracted media attention. Well-known examples include Shell (Brent Spa), Nike (working conditions of suppliers), Mannesmann (severance packages), Enron (accounting fraud), and BP (oil spill/pollution).

Some scholars also differentiate between corporate socially irresponsible practices on the basis of intentionality. Intentional socially irresponsible practices are actions that are intentionally undertaken to inflict harm on others, while unintentional socially irresponsible practices are not designed to harm others, but occur from unforeseen corporate actions (Lin-Hi & Müller, 2013 ). Irrespective of whether these socially deviant actions by organizations are intentional or unintentional, scholars agree that in essence both occur as a result of poor governance protocols and both are harmful corporate actions (Alcadipani & Medeiros, 2020 ).

Surprisingly, there is very little research on suppliers’ attitudes toward customers’ socially irresponsible behaviors. We believe, however, that it is plausible that suppliers will also react if their customers engage in socially irresponsible behaviors for several reasons. Firstly, previous studies show that socially irresponsible practices lead to negative evaluations of the offender by the target (i.e., the firm) (Folkes & Kamins, 1999 ). Such negative attitudes by the target may drive an intention to punish the offender, including complaining, boycotting, or avoiding contact with them (Lazarus, 1991 ). Hence, exiting the relationship with the customer can be seen as the supplier’s behavioral response to punish the socially irresponsible practices of the customer.

Secondly, suppliers may value social responsibility as an important part of their long-term growth strategy. As such, maintaining a relationship with customers who engage in irresponsible behavior may jeopardize their reputation and strategic interests. By exiting the relationship with the unethical customer, the supplier signals or demonstrates their commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). This proposition is consistent with the concept of dis-identification proposed by Elsbach and Bhattacharya ( 2001 ). Dis-identification occurs when actors distance themselves from organizations that demonstrate practices that are considered harmful. This dis-identification will lead actors to take actions that signal their separation from organizations that engage in unethical practices, for example, by publicly distancing themselves.

Applying this concept to the supplier–customer context, we propose that a decreased intention to continue the relationship with the unethical customer may reflect the supplier’s signaling their dis-identification with the customer’s irresponsible behavior. Therefore, we hypothesize:

H 2 : Socially irresponsible business practices by customers are negatively associated with suppliers’ intention to continue the relationship with their customers.

Differentiating the Effects of the Two Unethical Practices

While we propose that the two types of unethical practices by customers will have a negative effect on suppliers’ intention to continue their relationships, we argue that, because the consequences of these unethical practices vary in direction and proximity, they will differ in their intensity. Drawing on the norm of self-interest (Miller, 1999 ), we argue that a supplier would be more concerned with direct harmful effects on their business, compared to indirect, more distal, and longer-term impacts of socially irresponsible behaviors of a customer. While CSR violation by the customer may also drive the supplier to consider exiting their business relationship (as we argue in H 2 ), their driving force may not be as intensely felt as the unfair business practices directly targeted at the supplier (as in H 1 ). In other words, we argue, based on self-interest, that the supplier will be affected by practices that are more direct and immediately harmful to themselves, compared to those that are harmful to the wider society. Also, while the reputational effects of poor social responsibility are likely to be acute, we expect that the socially irresponsible practices of the customer will be less impactful on the supplier, as the latter are more distal to the market (Yang & Jiang, 2023 ). Accordingly, we hypothesize:

H 3 : The negative effect of customers’ unfair business practices on suppliers’ intention to continue the relationship with their customers is stronger than the negative effect of customers’ socially irresponsible practices.

Conditioning Factors that Influence the Supplier–Customer Relationship

We draw upon RDT to inform our hypothesizing around the moderating effects of suppliers’ dependence on their customers, in terms of the relationship between unethical practices and suppliers’ intention to continue their relationships. According to RDT, firms exist in interconnected resource exchange networks within uncertain environments (Pfeffer & Salancik, 2003 ). In order to bring stability and certainty to these environments, firms may deploy a range of strategies, including entering into supply chains, as these cooperative relationships reduce uncertainty and provide stability in terms of inputs and outputs (Crook & Combs, 2007 ). While these are cooperative relationships, the distribution of dependence and interdependence within supply chains is asymmetrical and therefore leads to power imbalances.

The ideal in business is for a firm to leverage value from suppliers or customers and to simultaneously limit the extent to which the firm itself is leveraged (Cox, 1999 ). As a consequence, a key goal for firms is to exert control over others in the supply chain, while reducing their dependence. This imbalance of power allows the dominant partner in the supply chain to exercise greater influence over the weaker dependent partner (Ulstrup Hoejmose et al., 2013 ). By doing so, the dominant partner is able to achieve profitability and success by pursuing its own agenda at the expense of the dependent partner (Benton & Maloni, 2005 ). In essence, the dependence of the weaker partner in the supply chain becomes the source of power for the more dominant partner because the latter is more independent (Emerson, 1962 ).

Suppliers may be the dependent partner in the relationship based on a number of factors. For example, this dependence may occur when (a) there are limited customers and many suppliers; (b) the customer has a high percentage share of the market for the supplier; (c) the supplier is inordinately reliant on the customer for income with few other sources; (d) buyer switching costs are substantial; (e) customer switching costs are modest; and (f) customer search costs are small (Cox, 2001 ). As a result of this power imbalance and dependence, there is a greater likelihood of a powerful customer behaving opportunistically by flouting social responsibility expectations or by exploiting a less powerful supplier via unfair business practices. Consequently, the supplier may tolerate unethical business practices because of their dependence on the customer. In turn, these supplicant suppliers become ensnared in what Grandinetti ( 2017 ) referred to as ‘traps.’ Suppliers who are in these traps are aware that they are being exploited or that their powerful customer is behaving in a socially irresponsible manner; however, they have to endure these unethical practices and continue in the relationship because of their dependence (Glavee-Geo et al., 2022 ). At times, these traps can take the form of complicity in unethical practices, as in the case concerning manipulations with vehicle emissions data involving Bosch as the supplier and Volkswagen as the buyer (Levin, 2019 ). In other words, market-related dependence of suppliers reflects their lack of alternative options to replace their customers because dependence is so great that it creates lock-in situations. Thus, suppliers have no alternative other than to maintain the existing business relationship with their more powerful customers (Harrison et al., 2012 ). Accordingly, we hypothesize:

H 4 : Suppliers’ dependence on customers will moderate (weaken) the negative association between customers’ unfair business practices and suppliers’ intention to continue the relationship with their customers. H 5 : Suppliers’ dependence on the customers will moderate (weaken) the negative association between customers’ socially irresponsible practices and suppliers’ intention to continue the relationship with their customers.

In contrast to harmful actions by customers, benefits to suppliers obtained in the relationship will tend to promote positive reciprocity. Here we consider the boundary condition of the material benefits provided by the customer to the supplier (e.g., long-term and profitable business from high volume purchases, opportunities for opening new markets, and image or reputation as suppliers to ‘big customers’). Indeed, rather than exiting a relationship a stream of research suggests that tolerating unethical behaviors can be an alternative response because the potential benefits derived from the relationship are perceived to be too great to lose (Lee, 2022b ). As such, the suppliers’ decision in terms of rejecting or tolerating their customers’ opportunistic behaviors can be influenced by self-interest (Wathne & Heide, 2000 ).

We argue that suppliers might be willing to endure customers’ unfair business practices, because of the benefits derived from customers may compensate for the mistreatment or loss suffered (Hill et al., 2009 ). Specifically, the benefits derived from customers can weaken the negative effect of the customers’ unfair practices on the suppliers’ intention to continue the relationship. Indeed, it may be the case that the benefits outweigh the loss and the perceived mistreatment suffered by suppliers. Hence, we hypothesize:

H 6 : The benefits derived by suppliers from the relationship with customers will moderate (weaken) the negative association of customers’ unfair business practices with suppliers’ intention to continue the relationship with their customers.

Likewise, the benefits obtained from relationships with unethical customers could also induce suppliers to ‘close their eyes’ to customers’ socially irresponsible practices. In this circumstance, we draw upon the concept of bounded ethicality. Chugh et al. ( 2005 ) introduced the concept of bounded ethicality to refer to situations where people make decisions that are inconsistent with their own consciously espoused beliefs and preferences. In other words, individuals will not always choose to do the ‘right thing,’ and instead, in these instances, their decisions are bounded by other cognitive factors. There are different manifestations of bounded ethicality. Gino et al. ( 2010 ) have identified ‘motivated blindness’ whereby one party ignores, or has more difficulty identifying, unethical actions of another party when they have a vested interest or an incentive to view the other party in a favorable light. Thus, the benefits derived from the relationship with a customer may ‘blind’ the supplier to their socially irresponsible behavior. As a result, this blindness may obscure the customer’s socially irresponsible practices, hence reducing their intention to exit their business relationship. Accordingly, we offer the following hypothesis:

H 7 : The benefits derived by suppliers from the relationship with customers will moderate (weaken) the negative association between customers’ socially irresponsible practices and with suppliers’ intention to continue the relationship with their customers.

Sample and Procedures

This study utilized an online panel survey of a sample of small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Australia. We followed the definitions of SMEs from the Australia and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) classification (see Table  1 ). The cross-sectoral nature of our sampling design aimed to achieve representativeness of our results. The unit of analysis was the firm and the targeted respondents were managers or senior managers who manage relationships with their customers (e.g., marketing, negotiation, sales, etc.). The use of a single respondent design is appropriate, as this protocol is common in SME research in the supply chain field: for example, the studies by Kull et al. ( 2018 ), Montabon et al. ( 2018 ), and Krause et al. ( 2018 ).

The data were sourced from Qualtrics, a research company that provides researchers with targeted samples to collect data. There has been a growing trend in the use of online panels to recruit participants (Andon et al., 2018 ; Brandon et al., 2014 ; Kuiper et al., 2023 ; Lee, 2022 ; Schwepker et al., 2021 ; Spielmann, 2021 ). Research has found that online panel data are similar in quality to data obtained through traditional organizational samples (Porter et al., 2019 ). For example, the measures from online panels have been found to have psychometric properties and construct validities comparable to conventionally sourced samples (Courtright et al., 2016 ; DeCelles et al., 2012 ; Walter et al., 2019 ). In addition, the sensitivity of the topic investigated in this study (i.e., reports on the unethical practices of customers) supports the rationale for using online panel data, as it can be difficult to gather such data through conventional surveys of managers in organizations (Porter et al., 2019 ).

We included participants who met the following criteria at the time they completed the surveys: senior managers or owners from small-to-medium-sized business organizations in Australia with fewer than 200 employees. Participants from the Qualtrics panel were recruited from a variety of sources and were compensated differently (e.g., obtaining points for gift cards). In total, 506 responses were collected with no missing data. We screened the responses and found no careless responses in terms of “straight line” responses (Meade & Craig, 2012 ). Prior to commencement, the study was approved by the university human research ethics committee and all respondents were assured of confidentiality and the voluntary nature of participation.

The demographic profile of the sample is presented in Table  1 . Around 30% of suppliers were small firms (fewer than 20 employees) and the other 70% were medium-sized firms (between 20 and 199 employees). We removed from the sample micro businesses with fewer than five employees. For the major customer, around 70% were small-to-medium-sized firms and nearly 30% were large firms (200 or more employees).

Multi-item scales (all measured using a 5-point Likert response format) were used for collecting data on the focal constructs used in this study. In completing the measures, respondents were asked to focus on their company’s major customer, who was defined as the customer who contributes to the highest proportion of the revenues of the company.

The 6-item scale measuring customer’s unfair practices was adapted from Carter ( 2000 ) and captures a range of opportunistic behaviors (Kelly et al., 2018 ), including using obscure contract terms to gain advantage over suppliers, overestimating demand to gain volume discounts from suppliers and delaying payments to suppliers. The customer socially irresponsible practices scale (also with six items) was adapted from Lin-Hi and Müller ( 2013 ), which includes polluting environments with their products and processes, unfair wages for their workers, price fixing with competitors, and being involved in child labor.

The 3-item scale measuring supplier dependence on the customer was adapted from Huo et al. ( 2016 ) and includes the difficulty of replacing the major customer as well as the high cost in switching from the major customer. The scale measuring the benefits enjoyed by the supplier from the relationship with the major customer (four items) was derived from Kumar et al. ( 1992 ). The scale captures different benefits, for example, generating high revenue, market penetration, and reputational benefits.

The scale for supplier’s intention to continue the relationship with the major customer was measured with four items adapted from Ghijsen et al. ( 2010 ), and it includes the intention to continue the business with the major customer and to keep the good relationship with the major customer as a long-term alliance.

In addition to the five key measures above, we also include a 3-item scale measuring supplier performance that was taken from Ward and Duray ( 2000 ). The measure includes three key performance indicators, namely sales, profitability, and market share, and the scale served as a control variable.

Scale Validity and Reliability

Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to validate all five multi-item scales used in this study simultaneously, and the results are presented in Table  2 . All fit indices support the unidimensionality and convergent validity of the measures (Bagozzi et al., 1991 ). The five scales also showed good reliability, as indicated by the construct reliability, which exceeded 0.70. The average variance extracted (AVE) values were also very close to 0.5 or above, as recommended by Fornell and Larcker ( 1981 ).

We performed Harman’s single factor test for examining common method variance (CMV) by conducting an exploratory factor analysis with all the scales’ items to extract a single factor (Podsakoff & Organ, 1986 ). The results of this test showed that 33% of the total variance was explained by a single factor, which is well below the 50% threshold. We performed a further CMV test, using the latent factor approach, where all scale  items were loaded onto one common factor as a competing measurement model (Podsakoff et al., 2003 ). The results indicated that the one-factor model produced a poor fit to the data (RMSEA = 0.20, CFI = 0.83, NFI = 0.82) and most of the factor loadings show negative values, suggesting no major problems with common method bias.

By comparing the values of the square roots of the AVEs with the correlations of variables, we found that the AVEs were higher than their corresponding intercorrelations, thus supporting discriminant validity (Fornell & Larcker, 1981 ). We further examined discriminant validity by pairing each of the six constructs and subjecting them to two measurement models. The original (unconstrained) model allowed all the constructs to be correlated, while the constrained model fixed the correlation between the paired constructs to 1, and the difference of the Chi-square ( χ 2 ) values between the two models was calculated. Fifteen discriminant validity tests were run for the six constructs, and the results show that all Chi-square difference test values (Δ χ 2 ) well exceeded the cut-off point of 6.64, confirming the discriminant validity between the six constructs at p  < 0.01 (see Table  3 ). The composite scores of the six constructs were then generated by averaging the values of the items of each construct. No violation of normality was found among the composite scores as the skewness and kurtosis values are within their accepted ranges of ± 1 and less than 7, respectively.

Bivariate Correlations

Pearson correlations, means, and standard deviations are shown in Table  4 . It is interesting to note that customer unfair business practices had no significant correlation with the benefits they provided to suppliers. This result suggests that the two are mutually exclusive, meaning that customers could engage in unfair business practices directed toward the supplier, while at the same time providing benefits to their supplier.

Hierarchical Moderated Regression Analysis

A hierarchical regression analysis was used for testing the hypotheses of the research model, and the results are presented in Table  5 .  All variables were z-standardized prior to the moderated regression analysis. Five control variables were included in the model, namely, suppliers’ number of employees, organizational age, performance, major customer’s number of employees, and the length of the relationships with their major customers.

We checked for multicollinearity and the largest variance inflation factor (VIF) was 3.43, which is significantly below the cut-off of 10 and below the more conservative cut-off of 5, confirming that multicollinearity was not violated.

In terms of the regression results, both major customer’s unfair business practices toward the supplier and their socially irresponsible practices have negative relationships with the supplier’s intention to continue the relationship ( β  = − 0.14, p  < 0.05 and β  = − 0.22, p  < 0.01, respectively); therefore, both H 1 and H 2 were supported. However, there was a significant overlap of the 95% confidence interval between the effect of major customers’ unfair practices (− 0.27 and − 0.02) and the effect of the major customer’s socially irresponsible practices (− 0.34 and − 0.09); therefore, the effects of the two practices were not statistically different from each other, negating H 3 .

Contrary to H 4 , the supplier’s dependence negatively moderates the relationship between major customer’s unfair business practices and the intention to continue the relationship ( β  = − 0.12, p  < 0.05). To aid interpretation, we plotted the interaction using the conventional values of one SD below the mean and one SD above the mean of the moderator (Aiken & West, 1991 ). The resulting interaction plot is presented in Fig.  2 . We found that the effect of major customer’s unfair business practices on supplier intention to continue the relationship was weaker ( β  = − 0.08) at lower level of supplier dependence on the major customer (1 SD below the mean), and stronger ( β  = − 0.32) at a higher level of supplier dependence (1 SD above the mean). These results suggest that, contrary to our hypothesis, the more dependent the supplier is on the major customer, unfair business practices of the major customer will decrease the supplier’s intention to stay in the relationship.

figure 2

The interaction between major customers’ unfair practices and the suppliers’ dependence on the major customers

Supplier dependence positively moderates the relationship between major customer’s socially irresponsible practices and supplier intention to continue the relationship ( β  = 0.27 at p  < 0.01), supporting H 5 . The interaction plot is presented in Fig.  3 .

figure 3

The interaction between the major customers’ socially irresponsible practices and the suppliers’ dependence on the major customers

At a lower level of supplier’s dependence on the major customer (1 SD below the mean), the major customer socially irresponsible practices show a stronger negative effect ( β  = − 0.49) on supplier intention to continue the relationship than when higher (1 SD above the mean; β  = 0.06). However, when supplier dependence reaches close to 2 standard deviations above the mean, the effect of the major customer’s socially irresponsible practices on the supplier’s intention to continue the relationship turns positive ( β  = 0.31). These results suggest that a higher dependence of a supplier on the major customer will neutralize, and even reverse, the negative effects of major customer’s socially irresponsible practices on supplier intention to continue the relationship.

On the other hand, benefits derived from the major customer positively moderates the relationship between the major customer’s unfair business practices and the supplier’s intention to continue the relationship ( β  = 0.18 at p  < 0.01), supporting H 6 . The interaction plot is presented in Fig.  4 .

figure 4

The interaction between the major customer’s unfair practices and the benefits derived by the supplier from the major customer

When benefits derived from the major customer are low (1 SD below the mean), the effect of the major customer’s unfair business practices has a stronger negative effect ( β  = − 0.34) on supplier intention to continue the relationship than when benefits are at a high level (1 SD above the mean; β  = − 0.05). In line with our hypothesis, these results suggest that larger benefits derived from the major customer will neutralize the negative effects of unfair business practices on supplier intention to continue the relationship.

Finally, the benefits derived from the major customer do not show a statistically significant moderating effect on the relationship between the major customer’s socially irresponsible practices and the supplier’s future relationship intention ( β  = − 0.06, p  > 0.10); therefore, H 7 was not supported.

Discussion of Empirical Findings

Consistent with the construct of negative reciprocity in social exchange theory, our findings show that both customers’ unfair (opportunistic) business practices toward suppliers and their socially irresponsible practices had negative effects on suppliers’ intention to maintain their relationship with their customers (H 1 and H 2 ). Although some studies have looked at the opportunistic behaviors of suppliers (Gelderman et al., 2020 ; Hill et al., 2009 ), our study is the first, to our knowledge, to empirically compare the two types of unethical practices by customers: unfair business practices directly targeted toward the supplier and socially irresponsible practices that impact on the wider society. Indeed, with regard to the negative effect of socially irresponsible practices on future relationship intention, to our knowledge there are no studies that have addressed this issue from the suppliers’ perspective. However, studies have shown the detrimental effect of corporate social irresponsibility on firms, including the loss of reputation. For example, firms that engage in socially irresponsible practices may lose their employees who want to detach themselves from the bad reputation associated with these firms (Onkila, 2015 ; Price & Sun, 2017 ). We consider that a similar underlying reputational mechanism applies to our findings on the negative effect of customers’ socially irresponsible practices on suppliers’ intention to continue the relationship.

Interestingly, there was no significant difference in the magnitude of the effects of these two unethical practices, contrary to H 3 . This suggests that, holding everything else constant, customers’ unfair practices and their social irresponsibility provide similar motivations for suppliers to continue or exit their relationships. In other words, unfair practices that directly harm suppliers’ immediate interests and broader socially irresponsible practices are both perceived as equally serious to the continuation of buyer–supplier relationships.

Two of our hypotheses examining the role of conditioning factors on the effects of unethical customer practices on suppliers’ intention to continue their relationships were supported. Specifically, in line with RDT we found that supplier dependence neutralized (or even switched at very high levels) the effect of customers’ socially irresponsible practices on supplier intention to continue their relationships (H 5 ). Likewise, the negative effect of customer unfair business practices on supplier intention to continue the relationship was neutralized by the benefits that the supplier derived from the customer (H 6 ). This finding is consistent with the study by Scheidler and Edinger-Schons ( 2020 ), which found that, when retail consumers directly benefit from firms involved in unethical practices, the negativity of consumer reactions is mitigated. Our findings suggest that, in business relationships, the suppliers’ response to the customers’ unethical behaviors is largely subject to a self-interested cost–benefit analysis in the context of asymmetry in terms of power, as predicted by RTD (Wathne & Heide, 2000 ).

Looking at the results for H 5 and H 6 , we can see different patterns in terms of the antecedent-moderator combinations. In H 5 we see the interaction between customers’ socially irresponsible practices and suppliers’ dependence, while in H 6 we see the interaction between customers’ unfair business practices and the benefits derived from these customers. The latter finding (H 6 ) is consistent with the notion that greater material benefits obtained in the relationship will tend to lead suppliers to tolerate unfair business practices, given the benefits derived from customers may compensate for any direct financial hurt or loss suffered. The former finding (H 5 ) is consistent with the notion that suppliers, while aware that their powerful customer is behaving in a socially irresponsible manner, may endure these unethical practices, because of their dependence in the form of high sales from the customer, high switching costs, or a lack of alternatives customers in the market. This outcome occurs, possibly even in light of the potential long-term reputational damage that may arise from a customer engaging in socially irresponsible practices.

It is surprising and contrary to RDT that supplier dependence does not weaken the effect of customers’ unfair business practices on the suppliers’ intention to continue their relationship; indeed, it strengthens the effect (opposite to the relationship hypothesized in H 4 ). In interpreting this unexpected result, we reason that when a supplier is highly dependent on a major customer and experience unfair business practices, they are in a diabolical double bind. As a result, they may rationally and strategically choose to de-invest in terms of their intention to continue with a highly exploitative relationship, which is at variance with the notion of being trapped according to RDT. We contend that when customers engage in unfair practices, suppliers may strategically reassess their dependent relationships and seek options for separating from their more dominant partner.

It is also unexpected that the benefits derived from customers failed to have a significant effect on the relationship between customers’ socially irresponsible behavior and supplier intention to continue the relationship (H 7 ). One plausible explanation is that, as customers’ wider socially irresponsible behavior is unlikely to have an immediate impact on suppliers’ business performance, they may not prioritize exiting these relationships, irrespective of the benefits derived from customers. The absence of the moderating effect of business benefits suggests that, unlike unfair business practices, the cost–benefit calculus is less applicable when deciding whether to continue their relationship with unethical customers.

Theoretical Implications

By considering the suppliers’ perspective, we extend theory emphasizing the role of unethical behavior on buyer–supplier relationships. Extant research has primarily viewed this issue from the customer’s standpoint; our study highlights that even small-and-medium-sized suppliers have agency and take decisions to exit relationships with customers that are unfair or socially irresponsible in their behaviors. This has important implications for future studies that integrate ethical concerns and inter-organizational relationships. We contend that ethical behavior can act as a glue to foster and strengthen buyer–supplier relationships. However, we have highlighted two important boundary conditions of self-interest (in the form of benefits) and dependence. In doing so, we have integrated SET and specifically the concept of negative reciprocity (Blau, 1964 ), as well as RDT, to show how suppliers’ self-interest and dependence on customers may influence their responses to unethical practices. Our findings for H5   and H 6 are in line with the notion of ‘weak reciprocity,’ as suggested by Guala ( 2012 ). Importantly, weak reciprocity emphasizes that actors consider the costs and benefits of negative reciprocity in decision-making. Our findings indicate that suppliers may not retaliate in kind to socially irresponsible actions of a customer because of their dependence in the relationship. This result brings to the fore the broader industry structure and supply market characteristics that might dictate the nature of dependence relationships and result in weak reciprocity to customers’ unethical practices. In a similar vein, we find that the benefits derived from the major customer weakens the negative relationship between the major customer’s unfair business practices and the supplier’s intention to continue the relationship.

Our findings are not consistent with the dominant paradigm of “strong reciprocity,” which claims that reciprocity is not sustained by such self-serving considerations, including concerns over reputation, but instead endures through a pro-social orientation or social preferences (Guala, 2012 ). The notion of strong reciprocity has held considerable sway in the literature on economic relationships and is predicated on the assumption an individual will seek to reward kindness and punish hostility in their relationships, irrespective of the cost to the individual of this reciprocal behavior (Fehr & Gächter, 2000 ). Our findings on the different dynamics of decision to continue the relationship on the part of a supplier, based on the specific unethical practice of the customer, brings to the fore the notion of ‘contingent reciprocity.’ We believe that this is a novel theoretical contribution of this study.

Practical Implications

Our findings show that buyer–supplier relational structure and dynamics can put limits on the extent to which a supplier may act against a customer engaging in unethical practices. This calls for a careful evaluation of contractual negotiations that a supplier may have with customers that lack a strong social responsibility stance. Being in a highly dependent customer relationship may further increase dependence on the customer. This is due to decisions taken by suppliers (such as by not diversifying across multiple customers) which may cause them to rationalize continuing their relationship with the more powerful and unethical customers. In the long run, this can have a detrimental reputational effect on suppliers, as they may be viewed as accomplices by letting their customers continue their socially irresponsible behavior.

Given that the benefits accrued by suppliers from their customers can make them less inclined toward reacting to customers’ unfair business practices, this could reinforce and strengthen unfair business practices on the part of customers, thereby creating a long-term ‘negative spiral.’ An asymmetric distribution of revenue coming from different customers is a red flag, particularly when one of these customers providing a significant revenue stream to the supplier is engaging in unfair practices. Suppliers should ensure that their customer markets are diversified in terms of revenue distribution, which is a good practice in general, but particularly so if they are ensconced with a more powerful, unfair customer.

Our results indicate that, when faced with customers’ unfair business practices, suppliers are likely to respond in kind by increasing their effort towards finding alternative options and discontinuing the prevailing relationship with the unfair customer. This highlights that the dependence condition of suppliers cannot be taken for granted and encourages customers to maintain productive relationships with suppliers by upholding fair business practices. At the same time, regulators have an important role to play by mitigating unfair business practices and socially irresponsible behaviors (Campbell, 2007 ). A recent example is the decision by the Australian government to impose a mandatory Food and Grocery Code of Conduct for supermarkets in Australia to better protect suppliers (The Treasury of the Australian Government, 2024 ).

Limitations, Future Directions, and Conclusions

Our study suffers from a few limitations. First, although our study used cross-sectional data, it provided a large sample for testing interactions, which can be subject to low statistical power in much of the literature. We also note that interactions are largely immune to the effects of common method variance (Podsakoff et al., 2003 ). In future studies, we recommend the use of longitudinal data to capture the dynamics of customer–supplier relationships. Secondly, future studies should seek to obtain dyadic data involving both parties to capture reciprocal perspectives from both supplier and customer in their business relationships. Thirdly, future research can complement this study by looking at both the ‘bright’ and ‘dark’ side of customers’ bargaining power over suppliers and the factors that influence both sides. Fourthly, we also suggest a comparative analysis between the relationship between suppliers and customers in different industries and cultural contexts beyond Australia to understand better the dynamics of the relationship and the potential occurrence of unethical practices in the relationship. While our study focused on the firm level, we believe that inter-firm relationships are manifested in the interpersonal interactions between firm agents (e.g., sales managers from suppliers and procurement or purchasing managers from buyer). Therefore, future studies could examine the personal interrelationships in buyer–supplier relationships. Finally, in addition to examining intention to maintain/exit a relationship, future studies could look at other responses to unethical practices, including taking legal action or lodging a complaint with the appropriate authorities.

In closing, integrating the concept of reciprocity in social exchange theory with resource dependence theory, we examined the effect of customers’ unethical practices on their suppliers’ intention to continue their business relationships. Overall, our study demonstrates that intention to continue inter-firm relationships in response to unethical practices is conditioned by self-interest and resource dependence. Our study is one of the few to examine suppliers’ responses to unethical practices and our findings are consistent with the notion of weak reciprocity, rather than strong reciprocity that predominates in the literature. On the basis of our findings, we encourage re-thinking on governance in supply chain relationships. While there is no simple answer to mitigate and/or eliminate unethical practices, we call for ‘institutional reformation’ in supply chain relationships, which can empower small-and-medium-sized suppliers to be on a more equal footing when dealing with unacceptable behaviors from customers.

Data availability

All data and syntax are available upon request from the corresponding author.

Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions . Sage.

Google Scholar  

Alcadipani, R., & Medeiros, C. R. O. (2020). When corporations cause harm: A critical view of corporate social irresponsibility and corporate crimes. Journal of Business Ethics, 167 (2), 285–297.

Article   Google Scholar  

Andon, P., Free, C., Jidin, R., Monroe, G. S., & Turner, M. J. (2018). The impact of financial incentives and perceptions of seriousness on whistleblowing intention. Journal of Business Ethics, 151 (1), 165–178.

Aßländer, M. S., & Roloff, J. (2010). Endangering social and economic sustainability: Supplier management in the automobile industry. International Journal of Sustainable Strategic Management, 2 (3), 256–273.

Bagozzi, R. P., Yi, Y., & Philips, L. W. (1991). Assessing construct validity in organizational research. Administrative Science Quarterly, 36 (3), 421–458.

Baron, R. A., & Richardson, D. R. (1994). Human aggression (2nd ed.). Plenum Press.

Benton, W. C., & Maloni, M. (2005). The influence of power driven buyer/seller relationships on supply chain satisfaction. Journal of Operations Management, 23 (1), 1–22.

Blau, P. (1964). Exchange and power in social life . Wiley.

Brandon, D. M., Long, J. H., Loraas, T. M., Mueller-Phillips, J., & Vansant, B. (2014). Online instrument delivery and participant recruitment services: Emerging opportunities for behavioral accounting research. Behavioral Research in Accounting, 26 (1), 1–23.

Campbell, J. L. (2007). Why would corporations behave in socially responsible ways? An institutional theory of corporate social responsibility. The Academy of Management Review, 32 (3), 946–967.

Carter, C. R. (2000). Ethical issues in international buyer–supplier relationships: A dyadic examination. Journal of Operations Management , 18 (2), 191–208.

Chugh, D., Bazerman, M. H., & Banaji, M. R. (2005). Bounded ethicality as a psychological barrier to recognizing conflicts of interest. Conflicts of Interest: Challenges and Solutions in Business, Law, Medicine, and Public Policy, 17 (1), 74–95.

Clark, C. E., Riera, M., & Iborra, M. (2022). Toward a theoretical framework of corporate social irresponsibility: Clarifying the gray zones between responsibility and irresponsibility. Business & Society, 61 (6), 1473–1511.

Courtright, S. H., Gardner, R. G., Smith, T. A., McCormick, B. W., & Colbert, A. E. (2016). My family made me do it: A cross-domain, self-regulatory perspective on antecedents to abusive supervision. Academy of Management Journal, 59 (5), 1630–1652.

Cox, A. (1999). Power, value and supply chain management. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 4 (4), 167–175.

Cox, A. (2001). Understanding buyer and supplier power: A framework for procurement and supply competence. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 37 (1), 8–15.

Crook, T. R., & Combs, J. G. (2007). Sources and consequences of bargaining power in supply chains. Journal of Operations Management, 25 (2), 546–555.

Cropanzano, R., & Mitchell, M. S. (2005). Social exchange theory: An interdisciplinary review. Journal of Management, 31 (6), 874–900.

Crosno, J. L., & Dahlstrom, R. (2008). A meta-analytic review of opportunism in exchange relationships. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36 (2), 191–201.

Cullinan, C., Bline, D., Farrar, R., & Lowe, D. (2008). Organization-harm vs. organization-gain ethical issues: An exploratory examination of the effects of organizational commitment. Journal of Business Ethics, 80 (2), 225–235.

DeCelles, K. A., DeRue, D. S., Margolis, J. D., & Ceranic, T. L. (2012). Does power corrupt or enable? When and why power facilitates self-interested behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97 (3), 681–689.

Elsbach, K. D., & Bhattacharya, C. B. (2001). Defining who you are by what you’re not: Organizational disidentification and the national rifle association. Organization Science, 12 (4), 393–413.

Emerson, R. M. (1962). Power-dependence relations. American Sociological Review, 27 (1), 31–41.

Fawcett, S. E., McCarter, M. W., Fawcett, A. M., Webb, G. S., & Magnan, G. M. (2015). Why supply chain collaboration fails: The socio-structural view of resistance to relational strategies. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 20 (6), 648–663.

Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (2000). Fairness and retaliation: The economics of reciprocity. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14 (3), 159–181.

Folkes, V. S., & Kamins, M. A. (1999). Effects of information about firms’ ethical and unethical actions on consumers’ attitudes. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 8 (3), 243–259.

Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18 (1), 39–50.

Gelderman, C. J., Semeijn, J., & Verhappen, M. (2020). Buyer opportunism in strategic supplier relationships: Triggers, manifestations and consequences. Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, 26 (2), 100581.

Gert, B. (2005). Morality: its nature and justification . Oxford University Press.

Book   Google Scholar  

Geyskens, I., & Steenkamp, J.-B.E.M. (2000). Economic and social satisfaction: Measurement and relevance to marketing channel relationships. Journal of Retailing, 76 (1), 11–32.

Ghijsen, P. W. T., Semeijn, J., & Ernstson, S. (2010). Supplier satisfaction and commitment: The role of influence strategies and supplier development. Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, 16 (1), 17–26.

Giddens, A. (1979). Central Problems in social theory: action, structure, and contradiction in social analysis . University of California Press.

Gino, F., Moore, D. A., & Bazerman, M. H. (2010). See no evil: When we overlook other people’s unethical behavior. Social decision making: Social dilemmas, social values, and ethical judgments (pp. 241–263). Routledge.

Glavee-Geo, R., Engelseth, P., & Buvik, A. (2022). Power imbalance and the dark side of the captive agri-food supplier-buyer relationship. Journal of Business Ethics, 178 (3), 609–628.

Goolam Nabee, S., & Swanepoel, E. (2021). Exploring supply chain business bullying of small and medium-sized business suppliers by dominant buyers in the apparel retail sector in Gauteng. The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management, 13 (1), 1–11.

Grandinetti, R. (2017). Exploring the dark side of cooperative buyer-seller relationships. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 32 (2), 326–336.

Griffith, D. A., Harvey, M. G., & Lusch, R. F. (2006). Social exchange in supply chain relationships: The resulting benefits of procedural and distributive justice. Journal of Operations Management, 24 (2), 85–98.

Guala, F. (2012). Reciprocity: Weak or strong? What punishment experiments do (and do not) demonstrate. Behavioral Brain Science, 35 (1), 1–15.

Harrison, M. P., Beatty, S. E., Reynolds, K. E., & Noble, S. M. (2012). Why customers feel locked into relationships: Using qualitative research to uncover the lock-in factors. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 20 (4), 391–406.

Hawkins, T. G., Pohlen, T. L., & Prybutok, V. R. (2013). Buyer opportunism in business-to-business exchange. Industrial Marketing Management, 42 (8), 1266–1278.

Hill, J. A., Eckerd, S., Wilson, D., & Greer, B. (2009). The effect of unethical behavior on trust in a buyer–supplier relationship: The mediating role of psychological contract violation. Journal of Operations Management, 27 (4), 281–293.

Huo, B., Wang, Z., & Tian, Y. (2016). The impact of justice on collaborative and opportunistic behaviors in supply chain relationships. International Journal of Production Economics, 177 , 12–23.

Iborra, M., & Riera, M. (2023). Corporate social irresponsibility: What we know and what we need to know. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 30 (3), 1421–1439.

Kelly, S., Wagner, B., & Ramsay, J. (2018). Opportunism in buyer–supplier exchange: A critical examination of the concept and its implications for theory and practice. Production Planning & Control, 29 (12), 992–1009.

Kim, S., Chae, S., Wagner, S. M., & Miller, J. W. (2022). Buyer abusive behavior and supplier welfare: An empirical study of truck owner–operators. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 58 (4), 90–111.

Klassen, R. D., Shafiq, A., & Fraser Johnson, P. (2023). Opportunism in supply chains: Dynamically building governance mechanisms to address sustainability-related challenges. Transportation Research Part e: Logistics and Transportation Review, 171 , 103021.

Krause, D., Luzzini, D., & Lawson, B. (2018). Building the case for a single key informant in supply chain management survey research. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 54 (1), 42–50.

Kuiper, M. E., Chambon, M., de Bruijn, A. L., Reinders Folmer, C., Olthuis, E. H., Brownlee, M., Kooistra, E. B., Fine, A., van Harreveld, F., Lunansky, G., & van Rooij, B. (2023). A network approach to compliance: A complexity science understanding of how rules shape behavior. Journal of Business Ethics, 184 (2), 479–504.

Kull, T. J., Kotlar, J., & Spring, M. (2018). Small and medium enterprise research in supply chain management: The case for single-respondent research designs. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 54 (1), 23–34.

Kumar, N., Stern, L. W., & Achrol, R. S. (1992). Assessing reseller performance from the perspective of the supplier. Journal of Marketing Research, 29 (2), 238–253.

Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Emotion and adaptation . Oxford University Press.

Lee, Y. (2022). Employees’ negative megaphoning in response to organizational injustice: The mediating role of employee–organization relationship and negative affect. Journal of Business Ethics, 178 (1), 89–103.

Lee, Y. (2023). When does a supplier tolerate resellers’ opportunistic behaviors?: Transaction benefit and cost perspectives. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 38 (5), 1101–1115.

Levin, D. (2019). German parts maker Bosch gets off with relatively light $100 million fine from VW dieselgate. Forbes . Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/doronlevin/2019/05/23/german-parts-maker-bosch-gets-off-with-relatively-light-100-million-fine-from-vw-dieselgate/?sh=5bb2ea1c21f2

Lin-Hi, N., & Müller, K. (2013). The CSR bottom line: Preventing corporate social irresponsibility. Journal of Business Research, 66 (10), 1928–1936.

Lumineau, F., & Oliveira, N. (2020). Reinvigorating the study of opportunism in supply chain management. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 56 (1), 73–87.

Matinheikki, J., Kauppi, K., Brandon-Jones, A., & van Raaij, E. M. (2022). Making agency theory work for supply chain relationships: A systematic review across four disciplines. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 42 (13), 299–334.

Meade, A. W., & Craig, S. B. (2012). Identifying careless responses in survey data. Psychological Methods, 17 (3), 437–455.

Miller, D. T. (1999). The norm of self-interest. American Psychologist, 54 (12), 1053–1060.

Mir, S., Aloysius, J. A., & Eckerd, S. (2017). Understanding supplier switching behavior: The role of psychological contracts in a competitive setting. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 53 (3), 3–18.

Moatti, V., Ren, C. R., Anand, J., & Dussauge, P. (2015). Disentangling the performance effects of efficiency and bargaining power in horizontal growth strategies: An empirical investigation in the global retail industry. Strategic Management Journal, 36 (5), 745–757.

Montabon, F., Daugherty, P. J., & Chen, H. (2018). Setting standards for single respondent survey design. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 54 (1), 35–41.

Narasimhan, R., Nair, A., Griffith, D. A., Arlbjørn, J. S., & Bendoly, E. (2009). Lock-in situations in supply chains: A social exchange theoretic study of sourcing arrangements in buyer–supplier relationships. Journal of Operations Management, 27 (5), 374–389.

Nyaga, G. N., Lynch, D. F., Marshall, D., & Ambrose, E. (2013). Power asymmetry, adaptation and collaboration in dyadic relationships involving a powerful partner. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 49 (3), 42–65.

Oliveira, N., & Lumineau, F. (2019). The dark side of interorganizational relationships: An integrative review and research agenda. Journal of Management, 45 (1), 231–261.

Onkila, T. (2015). Pride or Embarrassment? Employees’ emotions and corporate social responsibility. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 22 (4), 222–236.

Pfeffer, J., & Salancik, G. R. (2003). The external control of organizations: A resource dependence perspective . Stanford University Press.

Ping, R. A. (1993). The effects of satisfaction and structural constraints on retailer exiting, voice, loyalty, opportunism, and neglect. Journal of Retailing, 69 (3), 320–352.

Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Jeong-Yeon, L., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88 (5), 879–903.

Podsakoff, P., & Organ, D. (1986). Self-reports in organizational research: Problems and prospects. Journal of Management, 12 (4), 531–544.

Porter, C. O. L. H., Outlaw, R., Gale, J. P., & Cho, T. S. (2019). The use of online panel data in management research: A review and recommendations. Journal of Management, 45 (1), 319–344.

Price, J. M., & Sun, W. (2017). Doing good and doing bad: The impact of corporate social responsibility and irresponsibility on firm performance. Journal of Business Research, 80 , 82–97.

Sangam, V. (2017). Managing supplier relationships to make supply chains work . Retrieved from https://vijaysangamworld.wordpress.com/2023/03/03/managing-supplier-relationships-to-make-supply-chains-work/#:~:text=According%20to%20Forbes%2C%2047%25%20Of,10%20firms%20suffer%20supplier%20failure

Scheidler, S., & Edinger-Schons, L. M. (2020). Partners in crime? The impact of consumers’ culpability for corporate social irresponsibility on their boycott attitude. Journal of Business Research, 109 , 607–620.

Schleper, M. C., Blome, C., & Wuttke, D. A. (2017). The dark side of buyer power: Supplier exploitation and the role of ethical climates. Journal of Business Ethics, 140 (1), 97–114.

Schwepker, C. H., Valentine, S. R., Giacalone, R. A., & Promislo, M. (2021). Good barrels yield healthy apples: Organizational ethics as a mechanism for mitigating work-related stress and promoting employee well-being. Journal of Business Ethics, 174 (1), 143–159.

Shiffrin, S. V. (2012). Harm and its moral significance. Legal Theory, 18 (3), 357–398.

Skowronski, K., Benton, W. C., Jr., & Hill, J. A. (2020). Perceived supplier opportunism in outsourcing relationships in emerging economies. Journal of Operations Management, 66 (7–8), 989–1023.

Spielmann, N. (2021). Green is the new white: How virtue motivates green product purchase. Journal of Business Ethics, 173 (4), 759–776.

Taylor, R. S. (2017). Exit left: Markets and mobility in republican thought . Oxford University Press.

The Treasury of the Australian Government. (2024). Food and grocery code of conduct review 2023–24—Interim report . Retrieved from https://treasury.gov.au/consultation/c2024-510813

Tran, P. N. T., Gorton, M., & Lemke, F. (2021). When supplier development initiatives fail: Identifying the causes of opportunism and unexpected outcomes. Journal of Business Research, 127 , 277–289.

Ulstrup Hoejmose, S., Grosvold, J., & Millington, A. (2013). Socially responsible supply chains: Power asymmetries and joint dependence. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 18 (3), 277–291.

Walter, S. L., Seibert, S. E., Goering, D., & O’Boyle, E. H. (2019). A tale of two sample sources: Do results from online panel data and conventional data converge? Journal of Business and Psychology, 34 (4), 425–452.

Ward, P. T., & Duray, R. (2000). Manufacturing strategy in context: Environment, competitive strategy and manufacturing strategy. Journal of Operations Management, 18 (2), 123–138.

Wathne, K. H., & Heide, J. B. (2000). Opportunism in interfirm relationships: Forms, outcomes, and solutions. Journal of Marketing, 64 (4), 36–51.

Williamson, O. E. (1993). Opportunism and its critics. Managerial and Decision Economics, 14 (2), 97–107.

Yang, Y., & Jiang, Y. (2023). Buyer-supplier CSR alignment and firm performance: A contingency theory perspective. Journal of Business Research, 154 , 113340.

Download references

Open Access funding enabled and organized by CAUL and its Member Institutions.

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Department of Management, Monash Business School, Monash University, 900 Dandenong Road, Caulfield East, 3145, Australia

Daniel Prajogo, Brian Cooper & Ross Donohue

D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA, 02115, USA

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Daniel Prajogo .

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest.

The authors of this paper have no conflict of interest to declare.

Ethical approval

This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. Approval was Granted by the Ethics Committee of Monash University.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Additional information

Publisher's note.

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ .

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Prajogo, D., Cooper, B., Donohue, R. et al. The Effect of Customers’ Unethical Practices on Suppliers’ Intention to Continue Their Relationships. J Bus Ethics (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-024-05742-8

Download citation

Received : 28 November 2023

Accepted : 27 May 2024

Published : 19 July 2024

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-024-05742-8

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Unfair business practices
  • Socially irresponsible practices
  • Buyer–supplier relationships
  • Reciprocity
  • Resource dependence theory
  • Social exchange theory
  • Find a journal
  • Publish with us
  • Track your research


  1. The Top 17 Public Relations Insights of 2021

    public relations case studies 2021

  2. How To Create PR Case Study Examples That Win New Business

    public relations case studies 2021

  3. Public relations

    public relations case studies 2021

  4. Public Relations Case Studies: Strategies & Actions

    public relations case studies 2021

  5. Public Relation Case Studies

    public relations case studies 2021

  6. Alicia

    public relations case studies 2021


  1. Industrial relations case study animated video

  2. HR Generalist Lesson-3 Employees Relations Case Studies

  3. Rowan University- RU Drowning in debt? Part 3

  4. SKII China: Managing Public Relations Case Study Help


  6. Uber Public Relations Case Study


  1. PR The Work

    Public relations case studies & campaigns from PRWeek. Also see the latest from Inside the Mix at The Work area of PRWeek online. ... Campaign Case Studies. Genesis House draws 60,000 visitors with immersive floral experience By Eric Berger, July 08, 2024 ... By Betsy Kim, November 08, 2021 Denying wrongdoing and responsibility, Meta's ...

  2. 19 Successful PR Campaigns and Why They Worked

    3. Lego Rebuild the World. Their first global PR campaign in decades, Lego's Rebuild the World was focused on inspiring creative thinking in kids—but also adults. As part of the public relations campaign, Lego asked customers to submit pictures of their creations, aggregated onto a 3D globe on the brand's website.

  3. Example Silver Anvil Case Studies

    The Perry Group created a comprehensive community relations campaign to overcome significant trust hurdles and encourage BIPOC nonprofits to apply for grants. By the end of 2021, 100+ non-profits serving BIPOC communities would seek funding and POC would commit more than $50 million. Download the case study.

  4. Campaign Case Studies

    Inside Chipotle's Burrito Vault campaign. By Eric Berger, May 01, 2024. The "cultural phenomenon of word games and puzzles" inspired the brand's National Burrito Day effort. Find more campaign case studies here. Get our email newsletters.

  5. PR Case Studies

    Homebase is an all-in-one SMB team management platform that serves over 100,000 small businesses and two million hourly workers to […] 1 2 3. Looking for PR Case Studies? This resource offers both experience and insight into the business of public relations, and can help guide your agency.

  6. Case Study: How PR Helped a Local Hospital ...

    Case Study: How PR Helped a Local Hospital Generate Positive News in a Pandemic. Amy Stern - 02/18/2021. By articulating the hospital's unique selling proposition and distinguishing it from competitors, 3E Public Relations created a PR campaign that resulted in a windfall of media including local, regional and national news coverage. ...

  7. The Top 17 Public Relations Insights of 2021

    Download Full Report: The Top 17 PR Insights of 2021 PDF Download Social Graphics: Graphic 1, Graphic 2 Introduction: The Institute for Public Relations annually compiles the top research studies that we think public relations professionals should know about from the previous year. The past couple of years have seen many changes in our industry ...

  8. PDF The Top 17 Public Relations Insights of 2021

    advancement and corporate purpose. Method:A survey of 32,517 working adults acr. as conducted in February 2021.Key Findings:50% of workers said they have faced discrimination at work, which led them t. miss out on career advancement or training.22% of participants reported being passed.

  9. 2021, Case Study and Internal

    A study by PathFactory found content costs soared 58% in 2021 compared to the year earlier. The survey listed 16 possible formats and here's how the most valuable format stacked up: 43% said research or survey reports; 40% said case studies; 40% said webinars; 37% said B2B media and news; 34% said white papers; and. B2B 114.

  10. Case Study and Interviews

    AUGUST 8, 2023. SaaS companies have an average of 38 active cases studies that are between 500-1,000 words in both HTML and PDF format; here's how they incentives customers, sales and customer success to solicit new case studies Case studies are a pillar of B2B marketing, particularly in technology circles like software-as-a-service (SaaS).

  11. Case Study: How Social Media Can Drive Leads

    Emily Maupai Zinberg - 10/15/2021. Read through this case study to learn how we helped our client pivot during the pandemic to leverage their altered industry landscape and tell an impactful story on social media to secure new, qualified leads. While the media alerts us to the spread of "pandemic fatigue" among consumers across the country ...

  12. Bateman Case Study Competition

    The Bateman Case Study Competition is PRSSA's premier national case study competition for public relations students and gives you an opportunity to apply your classroom education and internship experiences to create and implement a full public relations campaign. First established as the National Case Study in 1973 and later renamed to honor ...

  13. The worst PR disasters of 2021

    The worst PR disasters of 2021. As with 2020, our award for worst PR of the year goes to government comms. However, at home and abroad, there are plenty of brands and celebrities which have also been busy putting their feet firmly in their mouths. As far as Andy Barr, owner of agency 10 Yetis Digital and writer of PRmoment column Good and Bad ...

  14. New case study guide from the CIPR demonstrates value of PR in time of

    The 'Communicating in a Crisis' guide features 21 award-winning case studies on how organisations use their PR teams to navigate through times of crisis. Previous research from the CIPR has highlighted the increased value placed on public relations during the pandemic. This new guide demonstrates how PR teams deliver that value.

  15. 2021 PR disasters in review—3 examples of crisis mismanagement

    2) Snickers ad in Spain. Snickers' advertisement for its ice cream bars in Spain was withdrawn after it faced accusations of homophobia. The ad featured Spanish influencer Aless Gibaja ordering at a restaurant, wearing pink, and behaving in a stereotypically feminine manner. Once he eats a Snickers ice cream bar he is transformed into a ...

  16. Case Study #1: Better.com Doesn't Live up to its Name

    The company planned to go public in December 2021; however, these plans were delayed (repeatedly) due to the damaged reputation of the brand. Trusted financial analysts continued to advise investors to, "consider waiting until the dust settles before planning to buy shares of Better.com" (Tepper, 2022). ... Public Relations Case Studies: ...

  17. Case Study

    Tips For Killer PR Case Studies. ImPRessions - Crenshaw Communications. APRIL 15, 2021. Every PR person knows that strong customer case studies are powerful additions to the B2B PR toolkit. A great case study can actually help move prospects down the sales funnel to the point where they're ready to buy. Anatomy of a successful customer case study.They also work well for sales and marketing.

  18. Public relations

    Mary C. Gentile. David Danks. Maralee Harrell. Joseph Steinberg. Cedric L. Alexander. The new system in a day-care center is producing biased results--setting off an alarm when some dark-skinned ...

  19. Case Study #7: Naomi Osaka's Public (and Private) Approach to Mental

    Her initial announcement was criticized by both the media and the public (Carayol, 2021). After facing a fine and suspension from the French Open, she finally wanted to talk to the media. Osaka's public relations team did a good job, but only after the initial crisis did they finally try to manage it.

  20. Lessons From The PR Fails of 2021 (So Far)

    Burger King - "Women belong in the kitchen.". On International Women's Day 2021, Burger King published the tweet, "Women belong in the kitchen.". The since-deleted tweet was part of a thread meant to empower women and encourage an increase in the number of women in head-chef roles. Burger King replied to the tweet, adding that women ...


    INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS Case studies in international public relations are hard to find. We are pleased to present fifteen case studies which we hope you find interesting, informative, and useful. Even when major international disasters occur, it is often difficult to get all the facts needed to prepare a fair and appropriate public ...

  22. PBRL 3409: Public Relations Case Studies (Syllabus)

    Case studies and typical public relations problems; planning and preparation of communications materials for various media; application of public relations techniques. PREREQUISITE: JOUR 3400 . TEXTBOOK: Cases in Public Relations Management, Second Edition by Swann, P. (New York: Routledge). ISBN: 978--415-51771-3 . COURSE WEBSITE ADDRESS: 1.

  23. Case Study and Crisis

    Crisis case study: How to turn an employee lawsuit into a brand disaster. Agility PR Solutions. AUGUST 15, 2021. The post Crisis case study: How to turn an employee lawsuit into a brand disaster appeared first on Agility PR Solutions.Before the scheduled walkout, the employees shared a statement of intent, which announced the walkout and criticized the company itself for the response to the […].

  24. US union organizing, and unions' election win rate, is surging, NLRB

    The seal of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is seen at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 14, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly Purchase Licensing Rights, opens new tab

  25. Can Anwar win a second term as PM?

    The Pakatan Harapan strategy may yet pave the way for Sabah and Sarawak to be kingmakers again.

  26. Conversations and insights about the moment.

    During Trump's four years in office, he made appointments to the National Labor Relations Board who systematically rolled back workers' rights and undermined the right to collective bargaining.

  27. Brand, Branding and Case Study

    Tips For Killer PR Case Studies. ImPRessions - Crenshaw Communications. APRIL 15, 2021. Every PR person knows that strong customer case studies are powerful additions to the B2B PR toolkit. A great case study can actually help move prospects down the sales funnel to the point where they're ready to buy. Anatomy of a successful customer case study.They also work well for sales and marketing.

  28. Empowering Micro-Entrepreneurs through Artificial Intelligence: : A

    E.L. Trist, K.W. Bamforth, Some social and psychological consequences of the longwall method of coal-getting: An examination of the psychological situation and defences of a work group in relation to the social structure and technological content of the work system, Human Relations 4 (1) (1951) 3-38,.

  29. The Effect of Customers' Unethical Practices on Suppliers ...

    This study examines inter-firm buyer-supplier relationships through an ethical lens. Drawing on the concept of reciprocity in social exchange theory as well as resource dependence theory, we examine the effect of customers' unethical practices on their suppliers' intention to continue their business relationships with their customers. Specifically, we distinguish two types of unethical ...