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How to save the reputation of a brand in case of PR-scandal

Date: 22.06.18

Recently Facebook has experienced the biggest scandal in its history, connected with data leakage of millions of users. However, the head of the company Mark Zuckerberg managed to deal with the problem: he gave explanations of the situation to the US Senate, and investors believed him, so the value of Facebook shares rose again.

Here are some more examples of how executives of large companies coped with PR-scandals.

Adidas recovers from a bad subject line

In a 2017 marketing campaign, Adidas sent a promotional email to Boston Marathon participants with the subject line, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” oblivious to the potential connotation linking that message to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

Adidas spokeswoman Maria Culp immediately recognized the error after a few customers pointed it out, publicly stating, “We are incredibly sorry. There was no thought given to the insensitive email subject line we sent Tuesday. We deeply apologize for our mistake.” Her response was heartfelt, apologetic, straightforward and, most importantly, immediate which may have prevented an even bigger PR disaster.

Virgin Galactic recovers from a deadly crash

In 2014, when Virgin Galactic attempted a manned test of a space tourism craft in the Mojave Desert, an anomaly resulted in a terrible crash. One pilot was killed and another one was injured. CEO Richard Branson, immediately upon learning of the tragedy, wrote a brief message about his personal grief even as he prepared for an in-person flight to visit the crash site to meet with the people involved.

He later wrote an extended post on the matter, expressing his shock, explaining the situation and resolving to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. Branson’s human side shone through here; his response was immediate and passionate. He dropped whatever he was doing to visit the site and manage his company's response in person; he also filled customers in about the details as soon as he could.

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