Crisis Communication Reflection
Initial Post: Find a current event, within the last year, that involved a crisis or scandal. Give a brief synopsis of the company and the issue, and then answer the questions below:
- What was the company’s communication approach to the crisis?
- Do you feel the company’s communication approach was effective? Why or why not?
- What would you have done the same and what would you have done differently?
PART A – PLEASE RESPOND TO CLASSMATE DISCUSSION WHETHER YOU AGREE OR NOT & A DETAILED WHY:
Crisis Communication Reflection Discussion: McDonaldâ€™s Fires C.E.O. Steve Easterbrook After Relationship with Employee
McDonald’s chief executive officer Steve Easterbrook is known for cutting millions of overhead costs and completely restructuring the company. Despite his accomplishments, Easterbrook recently violated company policy and was the face of a massive scandal. He was fired publicity after engaging in a relationship with an employee. After discovering the forbidden relationship, Easterbrook took accountability and agreed that he went against McDonald’s policy of being involved romantically with an employee.
What was the company’s communication approach to the crisis? After discovering that CEO Steve Easterbrook broke company policy by engaging in a consensual relationship with an employee, McDonald’s board of directors held a meeting to discuss the issue. After, being it the CEO attention he admits the context of the relationship and he was fired. Easterbrook said his goodbyes to the company through an email saying, “Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on.”
Do you feel the company’s communication approach was effective? Why or why not? Yes, the company made a logical choice to communicate because it shows that no one is exempted from failing to comply with the company’s policy. McDonald’s approached the issue before it got ahead of them and regained control of the situation by acting swiftly. As difficult as it may have been, McDonald’s still was candor, opened, and they took accountability of the scandal. Once integrity is broken, it isn’t very easy to repair. Even though Easterbrook is known for modernizing the company’s success after a considerable decline, this issue put the brand’s reputation in jeopardy. Leaders must be fully committed to leading by example and doing it even when they think no one is looking.
What would you have done the same and what would you have done differently? Yes, I would have done the same and let Easterbrook go while being transparent about the issue. If McDonald’s had allowed Easterbrook to remain a part of the company, it would send a message that it’s okay to break policies and that behavior is unacceptable. In differ, I wouldn’t wait for an employee to approach management as this scandal impacts them. I would organize a meeting to communicate with employees to reinforce the solemnity prohibited workplace relationships policies, proper practices, and structure pre-crisis plans to avoid any future incidents.
PART B – PLEASE RESPOND TO CLASSMATE DISCUSSION WHETHER YOU AGREE OR NOT & A DETAILED WHY: For this crisis management discussion, I choose Boeing crisis.
Human tragedy is a major part of the story of the Boeing 737 MAX. Some 189 people were killed on Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29, 2018 in Indonesia. On March 10, 2019, the crash of Ethiopian Airways flight ET302 took 157 lives. Within less than six months, 346 people died in no-survivor accidents in Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (1).
What was the company’s communication approach to the crisis?After the crash Ethiopian Airlines, Boeing 737 Max have been grounded worldwide. The US was slower to act than other countries. As China and the European Union announced their decision to ground the plane, the FAA declined to act. President Trump initially responded by tweeting on March 12th that airplanes had become too complex (2).
Comment from Boeing posted on 10 March on company website: Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team. A Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (3).
The companyâ€™s initial message was that itâ€™s jet is safe â€“ a narrative which CEO Dennis Muilenburg started after the first crash, insisting that â€œthe 737 MAX is a very safe airplaneâ€. After the second crash, this message was conveyed by Boeingâ€™s decision not to ground the airplane and to maintain the initial position of the US regulator, the FAA, which said that its â€œreview shows no systematic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft.â€(4)
Do you feel the company’s communication approach was effective? Why or why not?Boeing presence during whole period after crash on media and social media was limited CEO posted just two tweets. However, during whole time Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopian government and US regulator, the FAA were keep informing about progress in investigation. Boeingâ€™s lack of pro-active communication strategy created an information void which was filled by the criticisms of other stakeholders (5).
The communication of the company was not effective because they almost did not inform what they are planning, no one was commenting or providing more details. I believe the company really did not prepare for this kind of crisis, they did not come up with idea or information which switched to speculation about Boeing. They did not follow any rules about informing community, it was just silence.
What would you have done the same and what would you have done differently? Looking how they handle this crisis I would do it totally different. I would follow steps presented by Jack Welch:
- It is a bigger that you think
- There are no secrets
- You do not gone be present in good light by anyone
- You gone come up with the answer
I would organize press conference right after the crash, show the sympathy with victims, right away started communicating and grounding planes. During whole process of investigation, I will keep communicating all the time to not leave space for speculation, just be transparent. And at the end present what was the reason of the crash, not hiding reason even if it was our mistake during production or testing. One of the steps I will take it would be organizing a team which will be dedicated to find the reason of the crush and dedicate one person which will be responsible for communicating what they discover during whole process.