In this edition of you need a publicist, let’s talk Uber. Wow. So, a few weeks ago the saga began. Uber placed themselves right in the middle of the NYC taxi drivers strike, in essence disrespecting the taxi drivers and seeming unsupportive of the cause. Next, Uber released an odd social message addressing the issue when the backlash began. There should have been a formal respectable statement. The backlash began. Reports showed that over 200,000 people deleted the Uber app following the #deleteUber hashtag. The CEO then released a public statement as an explanation. The public felt it was too little too late. Shortly thereafter, the CEO dropped out of the new administration’s business committee. Interesting timing giving the stance Uber expressed just a few days earlier. Did the CEO drop out because he no longer believed in the ethics and the morals of the new administration or was it the loss of business? That is the true question. Are we talking money or morals?
Uber’s publicist had a rough few weeks. I am sure they are still reeling. Crisis Management is a huge part of PR. Especially depending on the niche you work within. Being timely and honest is essential when it comes to Crisis Management and any brand. The PR team at Uber has an ultimate goal of making sure the brand is seen in a positive light by the public.
Most recently, the CEO of Uber had some type of meltdown towards an actual Uber driver. Standard. Now once again, Uber is in the news for a negative reason. Another PR nightmare. My advice for the brand would be to do their best to stay out of the media. In my opinion being appropriate is about doing the right thing when no one is watching. Period. Maybe, this conversation should be had amongst the Uber team.
If I was a publicist for Uber these are the five most important steps I would have taken after the initial incident.
- Keep in mind it is not always about the money. All press is not good press.
- As a brand pick a stance and stick with that stance.
- Address the public once with a respectable statement.
- Do not donate money as a press opportunity on the heels of other company’s donation.
- Be cognizant that any additional negative press can destroy a brand’s image.
What I didn’t appreciate about the situation was the CEO’s initial stance. I also didn’t appreciate when the stance changed due to backlash. The worse thing a brand can do is lose credibility. When a brand seems as if they are flip-flopping to not lose business, they lose credibility. Do you want to support a brand that can be swayed so easily? I don’t.
PR101 – Make a statement. Address the public. Be careful in the future.
It is truly that simple.
How would you have handled all of the negative press as Uber’s publicist?