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Lessons learned from United Airlines PR crisis

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Remember those days when smart phones with video cameras didn’t exist? In the “good ol’ days” a company or organization only had to worry about the media covering a crisis. Today, it’s everyone. So, in light of the United Airlines PR crisis in which a passenger was “uprooted” from his seat, I’d like to discuss what’s a CEO to do?

In the era of transparency, you better act accordingly even when you think no one is looking. This era is an opportunity for businesses and organizations to walk the walk. It’s also an opportunity to get serious about your internal processes, culture and procedures before they go public in a way you don’t want them to go public. Even more than that, it’s an opportunity to empower your employees to serve with kindness and use their decision-making skills to do the right thing. If some employees are incapable of finding their capacity for kindness, or unable to make a sound decision, find another job for them behind the scenes or get rid of them before their behavior lands your company a spot on trending topics on Twitter. 

As a leader of your organization, stop kidding yourself that what worked five, 10, 15 or more years ago will work today. That’s simply not the case; there are too many moving parts and pieces to today’s technology in our society. If you think you have communication handled and all of the right processes in place, I guarantee you don’t. You are likely way too close to the organization to see things for what they are. That’s why you need a trusted advisor, someone on the outside who not only brings fresh perspective on behalf of your public but someone who you value and listen to because it is imperative for today’s CEO to have a realistic view of how the public perceives the company. The more in tune you are the better your crisis response. 

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