The Biggest PR Crises of 2019

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There have been several PR crises in 2019, and some have been better managed than others. Here’s some of the biggest crisis PR issues so far this year:

SoftBank and WeWork

When news about WeWork’s rampant mismanagement made headlines and SoftBank wasn’t spared from the criticism. While WeWork’s PR crisis has to do with consumers, SoftBank has to convince stakeholders that its future decisions will be less risky.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi, has gone on the offensive and tried to assure stakeholders of the company’s policy that all portfolio companies should be self-financing. The trouble, however, is that the narrative heavily leans towards SoftBank’s continued investment in WeWork as a bailout of sorts. It hasn’t helped matters that SoftBank reported its first quarterly loss in 14 years.

Gillette’s MeToo Campaign

Gillette ventured further into attaching social justice to its brand with a commercial urging men to be “better.” The ensuing public scrutiny showed the risk that companies take when they choose to use their brand to advocate issues. This was the first time Gillette had taken a stance on the issues of toxic masculinity and respect for women. It’s likely that the fanfare was a result of the audience not expecting the brand to take a stand on the issue.

The Arrest of Nissan’s Chairman and Resignation of the CEO

Carlos Ghosn was arrested for tax evasion in Japan, prompting headlines. He was also accused of making false disclosures about his finances. Ghosn’s reputation, which stems from helping to build Mitsubishi, Nissan and Renault, made the event international news.

The result was a significant weakening of relationships between foreign governments and car companies. Within three months, CEO Hiroto Saikawa revealed that he had been overpaid, and he promised to return the money within a week. In spite of that, he later resigned.

These events highlighted the fact that chief executives are often the recognizable faces of organizations, and it’s best to have a crisis response plan when they need to be replaced.

Boeing’s 737 Max Crisis

Boeing has faced a major public crisis after two crashes of its 737 Max aircraft in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The aircraft has been grounded all over the world and that has only resulted in airlines having to cancel flights and pause flying to certain destinations. The crisis was made worse when news broke that Boeing had failed to notify pilots of a new software update. It was also found out that the autopilot system was prone to error.

Boeing’s failure to talk about these issues at the time of the tragedies was received as a lack of transparency, and the CEO’s reported insistence that the planes are safe hasn’t been received well. Boeing has been tapped with the tall task of trying to earn back the trust of both aviators and passengers.

The year has been an eventful one for PR crises and those three are some of the biggest that have resulted in companies needing to quickly implement crisis plans.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations. 5W PR specializes in crisis communications, along with Influencer Marketing, Digital Marketing, Digital PR and more.

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