Effective Management of Crisis Is Integral to Branding: Learning From Uber Experience

Effective Management of Crisis Is Integral to Branding: Learning From Uber Experience


No brand is crisis-proof. Even global brands such as Apple and Coca-Cola once faced one major crisis or the other which rocked the boats of their brands. They overcame these crises. Coca-Cola, for instance, made arguably the biggest blunder of 2016 by getting the Russian map wrong. On 1st of January, 2016, in a New Year’s message to its customers on the most popular Russian social media network VKontakte, Coca-Cola published a map of Russia dotted with Christmas trees. The map of Russia did not include three cities which according to Russians is a slap in the face.
Uber faced a major crisis and overcame it. This further strengthened their brand. Uber is a technological company which deploys a taxi application that assists customers hire a convenient, affordable and safe taxi service from anywhere, using just a smartphone. Remarkably, Uber is currently in over 700 cities across the globe. It is headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States.
Uber was plunged into an avoidable crisis on February 19th, 2017, when a former employee, Susan Fowler posted an incriminating blog about her experience working with Uber. Among a slew of allegations, she mentioned grave sexual harassment and incompetent HR practice. Her post went viral after she tweeted about it on Twitter. The tweet (“I wrote something up this weekend about my year at Uber, and why I left: https://t.co/SyREtfLuZH”) has generated not less than 23,000 retweets and over 31,000 likes. It has hugged the headlines in several media outlets and blogs.
Uber’s management of this crisis is commendable and highly professional. The company issued a press statement which was attributed to Uber’s colourful CEO, Travis Kalanick. He also made same points on his Twitter account. He described the behaviour detailed in the blog as “abhorrent”. In the press statement, he said he had instructed new Chief Human Resources Officer, Liane Hornsey to conduct an “urgent investigation.”
According to New York Times, Uber hired former US Attorney General, Eric Holder and his law firm, Covington & Burling, to conduct an independent investigation of the claims and to do a thorough assessment of the company’s culture. The company also created anonymous hotline for staff to report incidents of sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying, and other unprofessional conducts.
The results are amazing. The CEO’s tweet got thousands of retweets because he was seen to be honest and an irreproachable character. The company’s steps towards handling the crisis received great media reportage. The caliber of people involved in the investigation is a pointer to Uber’s grit determination to get to the root of the situation. Uber’s integrity is boosted by this.
The major PR and branding lesson to be learnt from Uber’s experience is that in crisis management, companies need to act promptly and responsibly. In this digital age where information travels even faster than the speed of light, prompt acting matters a lot. You must also do more than just issuing a press statement. Purposeful actions must be taken. During crises, employees of affected companies must not be kept in the dark. They should be carried along on what has happened and the steps management has taken to address the crisis.
For the Brand Management of your company, and provision of first class and affordable Digital Marketing services to your company, call PENDROF on: +2348038341039. E Mail: pendrofmedia@gmail.com.

Dr Olusola Oso

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