Three apologies in two days? Really?

Put the heartfelt apology out there, issue a thoughtful statement, admit a company’s wrong doing, be consistent on social media, and in the best of all worlds, pick a morning show or news outlet and do an interview — full stop.

What ever happened to crisis management 101?

And oh by the way, don’t blame anyone else, especially the victim.

And oops, maybe think twice about sending out an employee mass email telling them they went “above and beyond.”

Have the statement available to loyal consumers, frequent flyers (in the United Clubs), where hmmm, frequent flyers congregate before their flights — aren’t they the ones that fly the most and spend the most money and might even be the best brand ambassadors?

(I flew United today and no one at the United Club in Boston had been given talking points or suggestions of how to deal with customers asking questions. I did have a pilot reference the incident noting that they were going to wait for connecting passengers on connecting flights and for the folks on the plane, he wanted to make sure we stayed on.)

A crisis plan should include:

  • A heartfelt apology
  • Specific action items and delivery dates for what a company specifically plans to do to address the wrong
  • Message points for front line employees
  • And that statement should be sent to frequent or loyal customers

There were so many errors that I stopped counting — not sure how to characterize the PR team’s actions honestly — it was the epitome of who’s on first.

In this case, the action that United took in concert with law enforcement was bad enough. What made it worse was the utter and complete epic fail of Mr. Munoz’ PR team. It is true that the buck stops at the top of the ladder — but this group of PR professionals completely missed the boat. They need to take as much ownership of this onerous action as Mr. Munoz.

This is going to be a long journey back for United to restore customer confidence. It must not only include taking a deep dive into fixing the problem, it must also include a thoughtful communication plan targeted to United’s key audiences.

Maybe Mr. Munoz will call us.

But it will be a long time before the consensus for United will be “wheels up,” more likely it will be “buckle up.”