Airline stories show how your crisis can stay in the news

Posted November 30, -0001

It’s a problem United Airlines now faces and one that emphasises even more why you need to be ready to respond quickly to media and other stakeholders before issues become crises.

What problem?

If you are unlucky enough to be the subject of bad press, you may be like many and breath a sigh of relief when it leaves the news cycle. However, what isn’t always as well understood is that it only leaves the news pages until a similar issue or crisis occurs. It then raises its ugly head again as the new event is compared with the earlier one.

United Airlines is currently suffering this fate only days after it left the news headlines for it’s disastrous handling of ‘passenger-gate.” A similar incident on an American Airlines flight has now hit the news, and guess who is prominent in all the media stories about it. You guessed it; United.

The same thing happened in the New Zealand media recently when one piece of bad student behaviour was compared to another incident about a week earlier.

If the second case occurs soon after the first, there is a huge likelihood they will be compared. But even if it was some time ago, this can continue on for years. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in 1989 is often still referred to whenever a crisis is handled badly. BP took some pressure off Exxon in 2011 with it’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

What does this mean for you?

This means a badly handled crisis or issue can damage you for years. Also don’t forget that news of it is likely to dominate Google when people search for information about your company.

The only answer is a Crisis Communication Plan and media interview skills. This way you can get onto issues before they become serious crises and respond to them properly in the media before speculation takes over and makes them out to be far worse than they are. 

Most clients call this an insurance policy on their reputation. Would you survive bad media on an issue important to your target market? Could you handle the negative stories on Google? Remember that with a bad reputation, business will drop off, or even become non-existent.

A crisis for you may be quite different and lower profile to the ones discussed here. These big companies usually recover, despite share prices sometimes dropping by billions initially.

The question to ask yourself is, “Would I survive is X happened or if Y happened.” If X or Y would impact your bottom line, you need to be prepared. It’s no different from insuring your house or business against fire damage.

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