media crisis

Are you prepared for a Peloton-style crisis?

The Peloton crisis got me thinking…

What if something terrible happened to you?

Every organization is vulnerable to a crisis. On many levels.

If you ignore it – it doesn’t disappear.

An employee sends out a racist tweet. You lay off workers. Your CEO gets in a car crash. There’s video of an employee doing something illegal. Or your product kills someone in a popular TV show.

Maybe it’s not even your crisis – but a vendor or client of yours is having a crisis.

The media calls.

You need to answer them. And release an internal statement, or even better, a video.

You don’t know what to do or say.

There are three rules for crisis management to remember:

  1. Acknowledge the issue
  2. Take responsibility quickly (think Extreme Ownership Jocko Willink style)
  3. Overcorrect

The good news is, this is easier if you prepare.

So how do you prepare for the unexpected?

  1. Brainstorm for any possible crises that can affect your organization. Once you identify the possibilities, you will see there are steps you can take to prevent certain ones from happening. Do so.
  2. Identify your crisis team. Who are the people the team will look towards for guidance?
  3. Choose and train your spokesperson. This is BIG. Make sure the spokesperson is trained for a crisis and knows how to stay on message even while managing the hardest questions. Outline which spokesperson, if more than one, is handling which news outlet i.e. local and national news outlets, social media, newspaper, etc.
  4. Notification and monitoring. How are you going to notify employees, stakeholders, and the public?
  5. Develop your crisis messages. When everything hits the fan, having this mapped out will be hugely beneficial when time is of the essence.
  6. Assess and adapt messages. When the crisis is on… assess and adapt to the situation in real-time.
  7. Post-crisis: inspect. After the dust has settled, inspect how your team and organization handled the crisis and determine what could have been done better and faster.

The basic steps of effective crisis communications are not difficult, but they require work in order to minimize the damage.

The impact on your financial and reputation’s bottom line will be more severe if you do not plan.

Employees and other stakeholders won’t know what’s happening and will become confused and angry.

Your organization will be perceived as inept and possibly criminally negligent.

The media crisis will last MUCH longer.

Preparedness is KEY.

P.S. I just gave you a brief rundown of what to do in a crisis, but if you are really serious about crisis preparedness, check out this video where I go into more detail.

P.P.S. I’ve created a special program just for healthcare professionals who need media training so they can confidently show up on camera, attract more patients, move up in their careers, and let their expertise shine. If that is you or you know someone who can benefit from this, Learn More Here.

P.P.P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 more ways I can help you build your brand, own your voice, and stand out:

  1. Want more tactical advice you can implement today? Check out my blog here for great articles, stories, and lessons I’ve shared over the years.
  2. Looking for one-on-one coaching or a consultation with me? Schedule a complimentary call to speak to our team about how we can help you. Schedule your call here.
  3. Follow me on Instagram here for more media and public speaking tips, videos… and a little fun.

What United Airlines Should Have Done to Avoid the PR & Media Crisis

By now, you’ve seen the videos.
You’ve heard the news reports.
You’ve read all your friends’ posts on Facebook about what they say United Airlines and the doctor should have done Sunday.
I’ve been on the phone for the past 24-hours with people asking me what should have been done and how I can help the doctor.
As of this writing, the doctor has been hospitalized and has a lawyer helping him take care of his family and professional reputation. I hope he recovers physically and mentally. What happened to him was inhumane.
The story is global and it’s especially bad in China. Media there is all over this story because of the doctor’s ethnicity. It’s not good for United because the airline is targeting the country for air travel growth. China is just the world’s fastest growing major aviation market.
Was this all preventable? Yes.
Here is how critical thinking and communication skills could have been used to prevent this media and public relations crisis. Review and keep in mind in case something (hopefully on a much smaller scale) happens at your company.
  1. No one should have been boarded if the flight was still over-booked. Not boarding people is a lot easier than boarding and then asking four people to remove themselves. It was a Sunday before the start of the work week. Everyone had to be somewhere else. Don’t leave it up to volunteers if you’re not going to raise the stakes.
  2. United should have offered a higher voucher amount. Another step up in airline dollars may have garnered more volunteers. To my knowledge, they had not yet hit the maximum they are allowed to go. Throwing another $1200 ($300-$400 more for each passenger) at the problem would have saved them the millions they are losing today.
  3. If that doesn’t work, bounce people at the gate using the carrier rules we all agree to when we purchase a ticket. Airlines are allowed to do what they did – just not in the way they did. They can start with those who checked in last and bump those flying on the cheapest tickets. From what I’ve read, medical personnel heading somewhere to treat patients are not supposed to be bumped.
  4. If all that STILL didn’t work, drive your employees or offer to drive the passengers. Chicago is not THAT far from Louisville. A road trip is a lot easier than saying sorry and paying millions when you bloody a passenger.
Obviously, United didn’t do this… and that’s why we’re talking about them.
What could they have done AFTER their mistakes Sunday to avoid this media storm? Here’s a list that you can copy if you have a communications crisis:
  1. Get out in front of the story IMMEDIATELY. You KNOW there is video. There is ALWAYS video.
  2. Get the CEO on TV right away Sunday night or first thing Monday morning to publicly apologize. In this news conference the CEO should say:
    • the company messed up (and deliver this genuinely)
    • there will be an investigation
    • they are going to make this right with the family
    • how they will change their future policies to make sure this does not happen again
    • and assure the public that they are safe doing business with their company.
  3. Publicly make a donation to a group that gives scholarships to future Asian-American doctors who want to further their education.
  4. By today, three days after the crisis, they’re back to the friendly skies.
As a spokesperson and communications director for a major law enforcement agency, this is what we did when there was a crisis. I wrote our communications strategy. It’s not always easy to do — but it’s easier than handling the PR crisis that comes later if you don’t follow a good crisis communications plan.
So what about the doctor’s past history that I keep reading about today? Does that have anything to do with all this? No.
No one should be treated this way on a plane heading home to treat their patients – or to do anything else.
There’s a lot of rumblings going on that United Airlines leaked the doctor’s personal history to the media to deflect what they did Sunday. Could have been the airline – and it could have been investigative journalists. No matter what, it shouldn’t make us feel that he deserved this kind of treatment. He didn’t. Nor did his wife.
What we all should remember is, we can avoid this from happening inside our companies. Think through the actions and the consequences when you have an internal communications crisis. Five minutes of going through “what’s the absolutely worst thing that can happen if we do this?” can save you millions and a lot of bad media and PR.
Are you ready for YOUR story to be on TV in the right way? Book your free consultation with me here. As a media coach, I’ll help you craft your story to make it newsworthy.
Oh, and if you have no idea what this story is about, here’s how to get caught up with the news quickly every morning.