March 29, 2018
When it comes to crisis management, far too many companies have the following plan in place: “It won’t happen to us.” Yet, the fact of the matter is most businesses will encounter a crisis of some sort, even if it doesn’t grab national headlines. Sure, you can feel confident that your team is doing everything right and nothing could possibly go wrong, but unfortunately, you can never be positive that will be the case. Therefore, having a plan for handling a crisis when it pops up is absolutely essential. Ideally, that plan should be drafted by a PR agency in Boca Raton or a full-service marketing team who understands your industry, your target audience and your brand.
So, what should that plan include? That will all depend on your industry, but all crisis management plans should incorporate one key component: transparency.
Whether your crisis comes in the form of a negative online review or it’s as severe as the tragic accident United Airlines is dealing with right now, being open and honest with your audience is important. We’ll use the latter as an example. Earlier this month, a United flight attendant reportedly ordered a passenger to place their dog traveling on board in the overhead bin, where it remained for the duration of the flight. Tragically, the dog died as a result.
Immediately, United responded to the public outcry on social media with a statement accepting complete fault. The statement also expressed condolences to the dog’s family and promised to refund the cost of their tickets and cover the cost of the dog’s necropsy. Finally, United assured the family and the public that an investigation will occur to prevent another incident like this one.
Of course, this initial response does not ensure that the airline’s handling of the situation will be successful. In spite of the level of transparency it provides, there are still some critics of the words United chose to express its sympathy. Plus, there is another important thing all businesses must consider when it comes to crisis management: follow-through. Unfortunately, the airline’s responses to past crises show how much it lacks in this department, which is probably why the public is so much less forgiving this time around.
Practicing transparency in the aftermath of a crisis means nothing if it isn’t followed by swift actions that support your promise to do better. United offers another example to explore in this case with the crisis it encountered last year. In March of 2017, a video of a passenger being dragged off a United flight went viral, and many criticized his treatment and vowed to never fly with the company again. The company’s CEO issued an internal memo seemingly blaming the passenger for the rough treatment, and a public statement in which he apologized for having to “re-accommodate” the customer. Needless to say, the half-hearted apology didn’t win back lost customers.
Nearly a year later, the company decided to create an internal training program to improve customer service and encourage employees to be compassionate. However, especially in light of its most recent crisis, the move was likely too little to late. What’s worse is United isn’t alone in its poor response to crises like this one. Some of the nation’s top brands have failed at crisis management, and it’s time to stop the cycle.
Need some assistance crafting your crisis management plan? Chances are, you probably do. Our full-service marketing agency also functions as a PR agency in Boca Raton, and our team is here to help you create a strategy that will see you through any potential crisis.