Most of us wish we could apologize to people in our past for one thing or another. As time passes, though, an apology can become a form of stalking or a self-centered quest for redemption. That person whose feelings you hurt badly when you were 18? She doesn’t want to hear from you now. If only you could board a magical aircraft, zoom back in time and make things right. Speaking of aircraft, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz sent an email on April 27 to customers apologizing for breaking the bonds of trust “when a passenger was forcibly removed” from one of its planes.
Two weeks after United’s reputation, and stock price, took a hit after airline security forcibly removed Dr. David Dao from a flight, it was American’s turn to deal with a passenger crisis. On April 21, a young mother was reduced to tears during an argument with attendants. The incident—which included a fellow passenger nearly getting into a physical altercation with an attendant—was captured on video and quickly went viral. But unlike United’s response, American quickly apologized, suspended the attendant and didn’t blame the victim.
As we know, communications has changed greatly with the rise of social media. It’s the same with crisis management, argues Daniela Peting of Motorola Solutions. Several maxims for crisis management from the pre-digital days may not work as well in the digital era. In fact, they could do more damage than good. Peting explains how listening via social media can benefit your crisis management experience.
Communicators know one word that can shake up an organization is crisis. But have you pondered how you would deal with such a situation if you were to ever face it? Survey after survey indicate most firms lack a solid crisis plan and fewer practice crisis scenarios regularly. In this digitized world, a well-worded press release is no longer enough to pacify your audience. Here are a few tips to help you use content to control a crisis.
A random act of senseless violence stunned the United States April 16: In a video posted to Facebook, a man driving through the Cleveland area sees a pedestrian, stops the car, announces his intention to kill, walks over to the victim and shoots him. The victim, 74-year-old Robert Godwin, was on his way home from an Easter meal with his children.
Businesses must comply with laws and regulations that demand protective measures for the safety of workers and the public; smart businesses go the extra mile to quickly right customer service wrongs before they become embarrassing public issues; and as sensible, informed adults, we take steps to protect ourselves and those around us, such as ensuring our children are vaccinated.
Videos of a man being dragged off of a United flight Sunday night have quickly spread through the web, drawing widespread condemnation and outrage. While United CEO Oscar Munoz publicly apologized the next day and said the company was investigating the incident, he took a decidedly tougher stance in an internal letter to employees. Instead of acknowledging that the company’s “established procedures” might need to be re-examined, Munoz doubled-down, citing policy and effectively passing the buck. Worse yet, the letter went on to shift the blame to the passenger.
While many readers likely will never need to react to the type of crisis described below, the principles discussed can apply to a wide variety of crises. These include having crisis procedures in advance, updating and practicing them regularly and keeping emergency information handy, including third-party contacts, media and influencers. While the author works in a part of the country that is prone to the natural disasters described below and so raises the importance of crisis preparation, surveys show brands large and small lack plans for management of any kind of crisis. They do so at their peril.
There were many examples last month of organizations screwing up and resulting in crises badly handled. We could have piled on PwC for the Oscars, but given that Hollywood obsessed about it for weeks, it was hard to find much more to say. And of course, we would have loved to weigh in on the great leggings-on-United kerfuffle clinging to Twitter as, well, leggings do. But frankly, in these times, all that seemed trivial compared to a couple of serious crises plaguing America’s military.
When a massive, five-alarm fire broke out on a Saturday evening in busy Gilbert, Arizona, a Phoenix suburb home to nearly 250,000 residents, the Gilbert Fire and Rescue Department partnered with Gilbert’s Digital Communications Department to take a teamwork and technology approach to communication and community outreach. Here’s how they did it.