Pump the breaks! If you haven’t heard about Uber’s rough start to the 2017 year then maybe you’ve been driving under one too many tunnels. Uber has been slowly roasting beneath the beaming spotlight these past months for several stunning scandals.
Let’s break this down by months and highlight some of the key points:
January 7: An Uber driver crashed their vehicle, paralyzing the passenger. This quickly brought to light the facts that the driver had past misdemeanors that were either missed or simply ignored. A lawsuit followed soon after.
More than 200,000 Uber customers deleted the app as part of a movement called #DeleteUber. The movement began because Uber drivers were still doing business and picking up passengers at the JFK airport during a taxi strike organized by The New York Taxi Workers Alliance. The taxi drivers were protesting President Donald Trump’s executive order, which prevented travelers from certain Muslim countries from entering the United States. After the strike, Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO of Uber, was criticized for his close ties to Trump.
February 19: A former engineer of Uber published a blog post about the business’ workplace, claiming sexism and sexual harassment occurred there
February 28: Travis Kalanick has been in hot water in the past but recently, in February, he was in the public eyes once again after a video was released of him arguing with an Uber driver who had given him a ride. In the video, the driver tells Kalanick that he and other drivers are financially suffering due to the low fare prices that Uber charges passengers. The driver goes on to say, “People don’t trust you anymore. I’m bankrupt because of you… You changed the whole business. You dropped the prices.” Kalanick fired back claiming “explicit language” multiple times, raising his voice and treating the driver with disrespect.
March 19: Uber’s president Jeff Jones left the company saying his, “beliefs and approach to leadership” are “inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber.”
March 24: Uber halted its self-driving car program and raised questions about its future when one of Uber’s self-driving cars hit another vehicle that didn’t yield on an Arizona highway. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
April 8: The city of Rome bans all Uber services.
April 11: Uber’s head of global PR, Rachel Whetstone, left the company. One too many PR crisis’s can do this to a person. Stay strong Rachel. We’re sure a break is much needed.
April 18: Sherif Marakby, VP of global vehicle programs and leader of Uber’s self-driving-car project also leaves the company. Another one bites the dust.
It seems this past year Uber has dealt with several PR crisis’s. But have they learned their lesson? The company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, has taken several steps out of the crisis management book to try and do just that. Kalanick apologized for his outburst with an Uber driver that was caught on camera and said he would get help with his leadership skills. He issued a statement about sexism saying, “There can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber—and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is O.K. will be fired.” Kalanick has also promised to release statistics about diversity at Uber.
So, has Uber learned its’ lesson? Some of the steps they’ve taken have been promising, but it seems time will tell. For now, people will be watching with peeled eyes.
If you’re ever facing a PR crisis, hopefully not as bad as Uber, or dare we even say United Airlines, here are a few tips to settle the tide.
1. Be Honest: Telling the truth is a smart business strategy. Everybody makes mistakes, but people will be less forgiving if you try to cover up the facts with lies.
2. Gather the Facts: Gather and analyze the facts so you can understand the issue at hand. Many things can be overlooked when people feel the pressure, especially when they are rushed. Do the research, talk to employees, figure out as much as you can.
3. Live and Learn: Even when the issue is settled, learn from the situation. Ask yourself, “What should we do differently next time?” Have a recovery strategy in place. Live and learn.
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-Haley Corkery │ Public Relations Specialist