#DeleteUber – Successful brands with bad reputation
The hashtag #DeleteUber has been trending for a few days now on Facebook and Twitter after many accused Uber of profiting in the wake of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance went on a strike against Trump’s new legislation to protest the fact that citizens from seven countries were being detained at the airport. During the taxi strike, Uber lifted its surge pricing and continued to drive passengers to the airport.
In an attempts to contain the damage, Travis Kalanick sent an email to all the Uber employees on Saturday and also posted it on his Facebook page. This is not the only crisis situation Uber is facing, but the latest one. Did it do any damage to the brand? It certainly did. Is Uber still one of the most successful transportation technology companies worth nearly $51 billion? Yes, it is. Will this last forever? No, I don’t think so.
It was all fun and frolics for many brands that thought their bad reputation won’t damage their successful legacy, they felt untouchable! It happened up until brands like BP, Volkswagen, FIFA and HSBC proved otherwise. Some names will recover, some never will, but does it mean that their reputation will not impact their business sooner or later?
In a digital era it is becoming more and more difficult to safeguard a brand’s reputation, especially when things go terribly wrong. Social media has made scandals and issues more transparent and brands like Samsung can’t take their sweet time before taking the action to recall dangerous devices. In today’s digital environment, news spreads very fast and brands need to understand that once things go pear-shaped, they need to make their first important call immediately: no, not to the head of legal department, but to their PR team.
Almost any reputation crisis is reversible and damage can be contained. It will take time and a team of strong crisis communications professionals, but it can be managed. The big questions is, are companies ready to “Do the right thing”? The easiest way out for brands like Uber is simply providing their services to other customers who are far away from either US or politics. If Uber services were horrible and multiple app errors would strip people of their money, there would have been a totally different spin to this story.
Big or small, crisis communications need to be handled by professionals. Don’t look at big brands that survived damaging behavior and didn’t get massacred by the public and media, remember even the BPs of this world go down. Stay prepared and make sure to have your crisis comms manual in check!