While United is stealing headlines for its appalling conduct, there are other corporations that have shown tremendous leadership in response to a public relations crisis. Some leaders have the good sense to respond quickly to get ahead of a problem, others, well not so much.
When United opted to forcibly remove Dr Dao they made a decision, they followed that up with a series of bad decisions. Now the victim is all lawyered-up and counting the days until his big payday. The United debacle is a nightmare that has only just begun and it will likely take a very long time to fade from public memory.
Other companies see the value of being proactive. One such company is the GAP. It took United CEO Oscar Munoz four days and three attempts to properly apologize Dr Dao. GAP’s CEO and president Jeff Kirwan, responded to a what could have been a public relations disaster by instituting fundamental change in less than 48 hrs.
A letter from a kid named Alice Jacob lamented the absence of anything beyond the “pink and princesses” stuff in GAP’s girls clothing. She also noticed that boys had a much wider selection. Seeing the potential for allegations of sexism Kirwan immediately responded by saying that he and his designers would, “do a better job”.
Not everyone is as quick to take responsibility and make the appropriate reparations. One of the most epic public relations fails occurred last October in Indonesia. As reported by Eco-Business, the 630-megawatt Pacitan coal-fired power plant in Ndaki, destroyed a once pristine beach. The absence of any sort of waste management system killed off fish in the nearby river. In the dry season soot covers everything. When the locals complained the company’s tragically funny response was to hand out free soap and mops.