Delta’s Slow Communications Takeoff Means Reputation Troubles

Erik Bernstein crisis management Leave a Comment

There’s no room for a sluggish response to a predictable situation

Sometimes, $%@! happens. What really matters is how you handle it. When an outage in Delta’s systems left passengers around the world stranded, the airline failed to step up to the challenge in a timely fashion, and is taking serious reputation damage as a result. Communications were slow, information coming from various company sources was clashing at times, and the tone overall was far more focused on describing the technical aspects of the outage than transmitting what those affected wanted to hear most – compassion.

While Delta did eventually get together some of the items that have become standard in company-wide crises, including clear explanations of compensation and footage of its CEO explaining matters in a relatively personal manner, the slow takeoff resulted in videos like the below from Digiday flooding the internet:

Delta Airlines’ computer outageDelta Airlines’ computer outage stranded thousands of travelers on Monday. Making matters worse was the fact that the airline bungled their tone on social media with misinformation and impersonal tweets often lacking in empathy.

Posted by Digiday on Monday, August 8, 2016

Delta’s crisis communications efforts have picked up a bit as the situation winds down, but an initial response that lagged behind the speed of public interest and failed to hit compassionate notes made the problems more damaging than they needed to be.

Being ready to respond rapidly is all about identifying the potential crises that could hit your organization and having a plan in place to cope. If you’re left playing the reaction game you no longer control your own story, and you’ll be left at the mercy of media and pundits the world over.

The BCM Blogging Team

Leave a Reply