Do you know how to handle a reputational crisis properly?
What do you do when it all seems to be falling apart?
It would be hard to find anyone not impacted or aware of the challenges faced by the airline industry right now.
After a punishing two years weathering the global pandemic, the airline industry is now navigating staff shortages, dramatic increase in fuel costs and high volumes of travellers eager to finally travel after gruesome lockdowns.
QANTAS seems to be struggling the most with this unprecedented challenge.
What can you do when everything seems to be going wrong? Communicate.
Our advice is:
Explain the Facts: What are your challenges? Reduced staff, fuel costs, IT systems issues. Tell your stakeholders what the problem is and take responsibility for it, even if it’s a third party supplier.
Be transparent about what you don’t know: There might be an issue you are still looking into, or timelines might not be clear. Being honest about your knowledge gaps builds trust.
Explain the actions you are taking: Let your stakeholders know what your objective is and what you are doing to achieve it. QANTAS, for example, would be working hard behind the scenes to restore its service to the standards that earned the business an excellent reputation, but it is not there for stakeholders to see. Issuing short videos of recovery efforts or explaining key actions in simple terms can alleviate concerns in your client community.
Tell stakeholders what they can do: This is critical. Firstly let your stakeholders know where they can get information updates (social media is a good method). From there, regularly update stakeholders on what to do, from booking in, arriving at the airport, being prepared for delays and ways to make the journey easier. It’s going to take a while to get back to the previous standards, so let your stakeholders know. They will appreciate the honesty and being kept informed.
Taking these steps is all about owning the problem and communicating honestly
Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci got it right. He openly admitted the problems with the airline, apologised and outlined what needs to be done to improve. https://news.alaskaair.com/alaska-airlines/operations/a-message-from-alaska-airlines-ceo-ben-minicucci/
For QANTAS, regular media updates and broadcasting CEO comments on social media will give stakeholders more confidence. Saying, ‘We have work to do’ isn’t always a bad thing. Own it and work on the recovery. The QANTAS goodwill bank is solid. It is time to draw on it and get back to where they were before the pandemic.
The worst time to start planning for a crisis is when you’re in the middle of one. Pre-crisis planning is key to successful media crisis mitigation.
We can assist with an audit of your people, plans and systems to ensure you are up to date and ready should a crisis happen.
Contact us at email@example.com or call 0417 160 120.