Not every PR crisis can be effectively managed overnight. In fact, most will take time and careful messaging to not only undo damage but also repair and reinvigorate a brand’s reputation in the marketplace. But, even based on that scale, some PR crisis seem to linger longer than they should, weaving a pattern of negative consumer feeling that can be tough to break. Here are a few examples of companies, that, while still successful, are struggling to manage lingering PR issues.
Despite owning up to “mistakes” with user data and despite evicting more than a billion bad actors from its platform, Facebook still faces ongoing scrutiny and consumer doubt. While, yes, the company is still incredibly successful, it is losing users and finding its brand at the center of ongoing debates about the role and mandates of social media in modern life. The brand has been so busy trying to fix breaches of trust and stop bad actors, that they have yet to make strides toward winning back those who are angry, suspicious, or disaffected.
At the core of the PR issue are Facebook’s inconsistent messaging, public mistakes, and private dealings, which are now becoming public fodder for discussion and fuel for angry consumers.
From an ousted CEO to lingering accusations of “gender bias,” “relentless sexual harassment,” and an overall “toxic” working environment, Uber has faced some pretty tough sledding in the past two years. Then, just when it looked like the company may make it a few news cycles without some negative press, someone uncovered a hack that happened back in 2016, which set off yet another round of public outrage and consumer doubt. Current leadership is working to be more transparent in its dealings and more effective in its consumer communication. Those intentions have yet to move the bar very much, and Uber still has a lot of business and political issues to manage. The company needs to right the ship from a public relations perspective in a definitive way to regain what it has lost.
When ranking the increasingly long list of online data breaches consumers have been victims of in recent years, there’s no way of excluding Equifax from the conversation. The massive privacy breach has been blamed on “negligent security,” which would be bad enough, especially for a company that controls the credit realties of so many people, but it was made worse by the fact that Equifax failed to announce the breach when it happened. The information was hidden from consumers for months, leaving them vulnerable to all manner of internet bad actors.
Far too late, Equifax offered a public apology, but the damage was done. Public confidence was erased, and the company’s stock value went off a cliff… And that led to even more bad news, when it was revealed that company insiders unloaded stock just prior to the breach announcement, protecting their own financial well-being after failing to protect of their customers.