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In 2018, the actions of three different institutions made clear the differences between responses appropriate and less so when your reputation is under siege.


When two dogs on two separate United Airlines flights died, the company accepted responsibility, but was less proactive in defending its reputation online. The words spoken against the airline on social media were insufficiently countered in this key court of public opinion. Although the right action was taken, damage was still done.


Even more chaotically managed were the responses from by President Trump’s team when the Oval Office was hit on a near daily basis by news reports critical of off-colour tweets and statements supposedly untrue that were issued from the White House, creating a slow-burning crisis. The presidency would have more robustly defended by having key staffers on-message in the first place, and more contrite less arrogant when allegations emerge.


A much smoother, crisis-fighting PR move was exemplified by Howard Schutz, chairman of Starbucks, when two black men sitting in a branch of the coffee shop waiting for a friend were arrested at the instigation of staffers. The forward-thinking businessman said, “We’re better than this,” and closed over 8,000 Starbucks stores for a day, incurring significant economic losses, so some 175,000 employees could attend racial sensitivity workshops.


Reputation and integrity trump financial interests – especially during crisis management. Profits may suffer temporarily, but your integrity is priceless and should never be put in jeopardy.


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