106374_1280x720

Piling on the United PR fiasco

In Dealing With Monsters, Management / Leadership, Marketing 101, The Woo by Jeff PeytonLeave a Comment

Watching the United Airlines train wreck unfold in the news and especially across social channels over the past several days has been horrifically educational. Except, perhaps, for the folks in charge at United. Which, frankly, I don’t get.

Isn’t this the guy PRWeek awarded “Communicator of the Year” – oh, that was before LeggingsGate and now DraggingGate.

And yes, I mean to pile on. You almost can’t Google “United” without wading through responses from the PR/Marketing crowd – all of us collectively scratching our heads and trying for the life of us to figure out the answer to one simple question. Why, God, why?

The specifics surrounding the astoundingly dumb (and probably illegal) decision made by United employees to forcibly remove a seated passenger are almost irrelevant. Fact is, the PR nightmare that cost United’s parent company more than $1 BILLION in valuation was entirely avoidable.

Yes, the cops-gone-wild viral video was bad for United. But it was fixable. IF – and it’s a huge if – United had reacted with something more than indifference, if Communicator of the Year Oscar Munoz had gone on TV five minutes after catching wind of the brewing social storm, if, if, if.

Seriously. All Munoz had to do was say five minutes into the crisis what his lawyers presumably allowed him to say two days later. Express genuine sorrow for the victim. Express genuine outrage at his employees. Fire the idiot who cost his company a billion dollars.

He’d be shining up his Communicator of the Year award for a second trophy.

This isn’t me talking. It’s the entire marketing universe. It’s that much of a no-brainer. The only thing none of us really understands about this situation is that aforementioned simple question.

Jeff Peyton
Don’t be fooled by Jeff’s accomplishments in communications, crisis and business management. He also wing-walked on an airplane at 700 feet, co-piloted the Goodyear Blimp and swam with sharks – and still managed to obtain paperwork officially declaring him “legally sane.” Really.

Leave a Comment