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6 PR lessons from United’s not-so-friendly skies

It is like watching a train wreck in slo-mo. A poor United Airlines’ passenger gets pulled off a full flight as shocked passengers look on in disbelief. Well at least he was not wearing leggings… Is this good marketing?

So, we all know that United really dropped the ball – and through some dreadful crisis public relations work has become despised from Main Street to Wall Street. But, we can learn from this! Here are 6 lessons for the rest of us from United’s not-so-friendly skies.

  1. Everyone is a citizen journalist today. Before you send in Jack Bauer to pull some guy off an aircraft, remember that dozens of lenses are focused on you, and ask: Is that really a smart, caring move, or is there a non-violent and public work around that won’t light up Twitter.

  2. Just apologize. If you messed up, don’t act like you did the right thing, and congratulate the people who overreacted. Not only do you look terrible, you look like you exist in a parallel universe. Just apologize right way, and make sure that it does not happen again. The longer you wait, the worse it gets…

  3. Build in checks and balances. Before an organization does something that could blow up, be sure that someone who gets marketing has a chance to step in and stop a truly stupid act. Sometimes just taking a breath can make all the difference.

  4. A crisis can blow up in a second, so you need to react just as fast. You need a plan in place to react as quickly as possible, not in hours – but minutes. Social media can light up fast, if you are not ready, then you are at a huge disadvantage. The longer you wait the harder it is to shut it down – and the more expensive.

  5. Review your social media posts immediately – they can be quickly thrown back at you in light of a crisis. Have a point person ready to act immediately– and get your response and house in order.

  6. Don’t play the victim, that never works. No one will feel sorry for a multi –billion dollar corporation or its super wealthy CEO – so just don’t even go there. Be humble, apologize, and get through it.

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