United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has taken a highly public customer incident (a customer was dragged off a plane in Chicago on Monday, for not giving up his paid seat, since the plane was overbooked and was needed for a United crew member) and has made it worse, by not immediately apologizing for his company's lack of "Friendly-Skies,"causing a PR communications nightmare for the airlines. Instead, the CEO commended his United crew for taking, what he considered, proper action, and now is dealing with the sh_ _ storm of negative perception that is reflecting on the United brand. So, as marketers, how do we handle a CEO that has gone rogue in communications and save the company's brand image? Clean up the mess immediately and send out communications in the fastest way possible, and that's by executing an emergency digital marketing and communications plan. Hopefully, as the marketer you prepared for this, and if you didn't, do it NOW.
As marketers, digital marketing has become our best weapon, in spite of a rogue CEO. First step, stop your CEO from communicating any further in all marketing channels, especially digitally, since social media can be brutal, and elicit commentary that can quickly escalate, and most likely, not in the direction that may be best for the company brand. Second, immediately enact your emergency communications plan or create a communications strategy and start communicating to your target audience through all social media channels, as well as, launching email campaigns to the company's customers. Remember BP's oil spill, when they didn't communicate quickly through social media and how it caused a worse PR nightmare? Right, so don't let that happen to the company's brand.
Lastly, reassure the customer market that all steps are being taken to investigate the incident, and keep the communication fluid by taking all customer inquiries via Facebook and Twitter. Any incident can tarnish a company's brand, but it's the work that we put in, during the PR fire storm, that can either break or make the confidence of the customer base to continue to believe in a company's brand. It's our jobs as the marketers to effectively to deal with the crisis and protect the brand. Protect the brand at all costs.