May 04, 2017
/ by David Moore
It’s only the middle of Spring, but 2017 has already offered up ample opportunities for PR pros to learn from the work of crisis managers at top brands. One thing that is apparent is that PR calamities come in all shapes and sizes and no single response is right for every situation. It is also clear that when crisis management is necessary, brands should remember the Hippocratic oath that doctors take, “First, do no harm.” And although United Airlines and Pepsi get honorable mentions in the bad PR category, so far, this year Uber has taken the prize.
I hate to say it, but it’s going to take bullet points to outline everything the ride sharing service has been through already this year. Some of these are the kind of problems that even the best corporate citizen brands can trip into, while others are self-inflicted signs of trouble.
Unlike United Airlines, which suffered a stock drop after a passenger was seriously injured after being pulled off a flight, Uber isn’t publicly traded, so we don’t know how all of this has impacted the financial standing of the company. We do know that the #DeleteUber campaign resulted in more than 200,000 people deleting Uber. Uber’s chief competitor, Lyft, seems to have been the beneficiary with bookings jumping up 137% from the previous year in February.
You probably are facing nowhere near the avalanche of bad news that the Uber team is dealing with, but difficult situations can arise in even the most carefully run organizations. Here are a few things you can do to weather the storm.
1 – Start monitoring before a problem comes up
Information is your biggest ally when bad news hits. With media monitoring software in place, you’ll be the first to know if negative mentions start popping up so that you can respond quickly and proactively.
2 – Respond thoughtfully
Responding quickly is important, but getting it right is absolutely essential. Target the right journalists and gather all of the facts before making a statement or answering questions.
3 – Be honest
The public understands that companies are made up of people and people make mistakes, but they are less likely to forgive when brands lie or cover-up bad behavior or ineffective policies.
4 – Learn
Crisis management does not stop when the issue fades from the headlines. Smart PR pros take the opportunity to learn from the situation. Ask questions like, “What would we do different next time?” Also put a recovery strategy in place. If you lost social media followers as a result of the problem, for example, craft a plan to rebuild your audience.
It will be interesting to see if Uber can right the ship. We’ll check back in later in the year and see how they are doing. Meanwhile, if you are ready to put the PR tools in place to make managing your own tricky situations easier, just drop us a line.
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