PR Crisis

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By the time that this article was written, two of the major industry disasters this year thus far are the Pepsi ad featuring Kendell Jenner, and the United Airlines fiasco.

It is baffling that huge corporations like these failed to properly address and resolve these debacles, as well as their failure to deal with the backlash from stakeholders and the public in general. Granted, such corporations should not even be in this ugly mess that could have been easily avoided with proper research (Pepsi) and clear guidelines that support the customers (United). But as per Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And corporations are just like human beings: It is the way they react that makes all the difference.

First of all, a public apology doesn’t cut it. These days, the public wants to see actions, not insincere apologies. An apology should be accompanied by a serious and honest explanation followed by steps taken to resolve the issue at hand and to avoid facing similar issues in the future. Secondly, with the modern technologies and social media platforms nowadays, the public have become more and more demanding, and impatient to get answers; thus, corporations have a responsibility now to stay connected with their audiences and to make sure that they get answers from the horse’s mouth, not from third parties or different sources. The problem at hand should be studied and analyzed thoroughly on the spot by everyone involved in the company across all levels, including the CEO and the PR department (and/or the PR agency), in order to come up with a comprehensive and honest solution that proves the company’s sincerity, professionalism, and commitment to providing a better environment and experience to all of its stakeholders.

Bottom line: No company is immune to unfortunate incidents. Companies however should always a have a contingency plan in place, and should make sure that they react appropriately in a way that solves the issue from its roots, rather than either trying to sweep it under the rug, or coming up with solutions that make matters even worse.

Sawsan Abu Omar, MCIPR
PR & Communications Professional |


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