Oh United… what we can learn

April 11, 2017

While social media isn’t always the best tool to prop things up – it sure does excel in taking things down.

As we look at the predicament that United Airlines has created for itself, there are some lessons any organization take away, for after the $#!T hits the fan.

  1. Whether you’re at the top of the organization or in a communications role, never go it alone when creating a response. Have a trusted, savvy team at the ready at all times. The larger and more public-facing your organization is, the more essential it is to have access to experts in crisis communications.
  2. If the situation you face requires consulting your legal team before responding, make sure your communications team is also involved before going public so you don’t sound defensive, like you’re trying to dodge responsibility, or simply like an inhuman jerk.
  3. Test your message. Check it out with a handful of trusted people of different ages and backgrounds who aren’t directly involved in the situation, to get a read on how they react. Change your message if the reaction isn’t good.

It’s not a guarantee that this process will help you escape the angry mob of posters and sharers, but it will set you on a stronger trajectory.

Plus, it doesn’t take much extra time to do it the right way, as long as teams and action steps are set up and agreed upon in advance of a real situation.