What To Do When You See Crisis On the Horizon

In the wake of latest disaster involving the Boeing 737 Max 8, it only proves that having a solid crisis communications plan can help mitigate the long term fallout

I’ll be the first to admit: I am not an aviation expert. Nor do I represent any airline or any client with an interest in any airline. But, the recent tragedy involving Ethiopian Airlines points to a growing issue: Boeing has a serious problem. I love to travel, whether it’s for business or pleasure. So, the recent news following the heartbreaking disaster in Africa is something that I worry could impact myself, friends or family.

Today, Canada joined the rest of the international community in grounding the Boeing 737 Max 8. The United States is the only country where the aircraft is allowed to fly while worried consumers are reaching out to domestic carriers to see what planes they are flying on.

The fallout from the second crash in less than six months involving the 737 Max 8 is quickly turning into a PR nightmare for Boeing. Their CEO, the FAA and airlines including Southwest and American continue to reassure the public that the aircraft is safe. But like in any crisis, if you don’t get ahead of the story then you will continue to play defense and let others control your narrative.

For example, CNN today reported that pilots who have flown the 737 Max 8 described issues during flight. One pilot was quoted as saying that the flight manual is “inadequate and almost criminally insufficient.” Stories like these will continue to drip out over the coming weeks. While Boeing has made a statement regarding the accident, the company should continue to do more.

Every organization may face a crisis moment and rely on PR to help navigate the issue. Here are some things to take into consideration if your brand is facing a crisis:

  1. Stay Honest - the minute you lie or overstate the truth, it will come back to haunt you. Always be willing to be as transparent as possible, while addressing the crisis head on. This helps to set the tone of the conversation and your brand controlling the narrative

  2. Leverage Your Existing Media Relations - reach out to outlets that have covered you before or you have a good relationship with. Conduct interviews or media tours highlighting what steps your company is taking to address the crisis at hand.

  3. Track Your Coverage - Be sure to keep track of the story and stay on step ahead. Your organization should be ready to address continued fall out and any potential questions related to developing stories

Boeing won’t fix their problem with PR, but their team can take concrete steps share information, preserve brand integrity and address any issues.