The United Airlines Story: How A PR Disaster Could Have Been Avoided

United Airline PR Disaster

Unless you’ve been living under a rock on Mars you can’t have missed the epic PR disaster which ensued after footage was shared of a United Airlines passenger being forcefully removed from a flight by an aviation law enforcement officer due to an overbooked United Airlines flight. Most people reacted with shock when the disturbing images and video clips went viral and even the Chicago Department of Aviation placed the officer on leave, admitting that his actions were not condoned or acceptable. United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz on the other hand issued the following statement immediately after the event:

Aside from being impersonal and exceptionally formal, his use of the term “re-accommodate” diminishes the impact of the violent force used against a paying costumer who was randomly selected to leave the flight after no volunteers put themselves forward.  Whilst the officer was not an employee of the airline, the situation took place following a United Airlines request to remove the passenger and this CEO statement does not do enough to address the passenger who suffered on board their flight, choosing first to reference the United Airlines team as if they take priority over the customer.  I was asked to appear on The Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC Two to discuss how United Airlines can survive this PR crisis. You can watch the full interview here (1hr54).

I was also given an opportunity to speak about this in greater depth on Eddie Nestor’s BBC Radio London show (from 0hrs33mins):

Finally, I was invited to discuss the situation on BBC Radio 5Live to discuss the PR fallout (from 2h19min):

The running theme throughout my discussions was that the CEO should have apologised directly to the passenger and held off from making any further comments until all the facts and information were established. Aside from the online memes and the backlash from consumers, media outlets and competitors alike this is a lesson in corporate sensibility and sensitivity. The consumer is king, not only when a business takes money but at every stage of the brand relationship process. The damage to the organisation’s reputation is huge in this case (although it is not the first time they have had negative press), with share values plummeting and social media reactions keeping this story alive. Passengers should be made to feel safe, secure and most of all respected and after this second statement from the United Airlines CEO it would seem that they are grasping this. This statement is more compassionate, more customer focused and has less corporate jargon. Is it too little too late? Only time will tell.

Why Building Your Personal Brand Is Important

I believe that there is so much power in building and maintaining a strong personal brand in business and even in the professional careers world. So many business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals want to raise their corporate visibility and business credibility but lack direction or even confidence in doing so.

This video offers some insight into building your personal brand and why it is important in helping you stand out from the crowd.

My Personal Branding Seminar takes place on April 6th 2017:

Read more useful personal branding pieces here:

Self-promotion: It’s not boasting if it’s true!

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Read My Interview On The Plantain and Champagne Site

Aside from being 2 of my favourite things, Plantain and Champagne is also an empowering and uplifting website. It is a site where culture and creativity collide; and is a celebration of creative “Lady Bosses”. Click here to read my interview.

Photography by Rob Greig (copyright)

What Is PR?

In this video I provide a simple yet hopefully effective definition to PR and it’s overall impact on society at large. Whilst I work primarily with business clients via my company Ariatu PR I still understand the influence that PR has on our communities.

I hope this video helps those of you who have struggled with understanding what PR is, to get a better understanding of the sector.
For more information about how PR can help your business visit the Ariatu PR website

Join Me At Do It Now Now’s Anti-Pop Hair And Beauty Event

  • Interested in the Afro Hair and Beauty business?
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The team at Do It Now Now have brought together the best of the best to teach you about Marketing, PR, Branding, Team-building, Funding and so much more. On Saturday April 29th from 10-5, the day will consist of having fun, connecting with new people and learning what it takes to build a business that is healthy, scaleable and sustainable. Once you have been through the day and have been taught all you need to be taught, you are going to present your business to the ASOS Beauty team and potentially have your products recommended to thousands of people in an ASOS newsletter, if they choose to work with your business.