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The Strategy Room

Google and Marriott Face Privacy Scandals, Kevin Hart’s Anti-Apology And More

By: Hannah Sedgwick

LunchBreak

QUICK PR READS YOU CAN TACKLE BETWEEN BITES

Happy Tuesday, Lunch Breakers! We’re inching closer to the end of the year and the holiday season is in full swing.  

The weather outside is frightful, but do you know what’s even more frightful? A PR crisis that could have been prevented or managed more effectively.  

Zip up your fleece and take another sip of your coffee because today we’re looking at some recent PR crises and how they were handled.  

When issuing an apology in a crisis, you must act quickly and concisely to get your message across to audiences. #crisiscomms #prnews Click To Tweet

RIP Google+ 

We already knew Google would shut down its plagued social networking platform Google+ next August because of a bug that exposed 500,000 users’ data. But we didn’t know that an additional 52.5 million accounts were compromised by another software bug in November. Due to this second bug, Google announced it would shut down Google+ even earlier than anticipated.  

Google quickly issued an informative blog post to let users know that they’d be notified if their account had been affected. Google has quite a bit of experience responding to privacy incidents this year, so as expected, it posted swiftly and concisely.  

The Price Is[n’t] Right 

Many corporations have fallen victim to data breaches in recent months, but Marriott’s is one of the largest in history. Hackers accessed up to 500 million guest records, including passport numbers, from Marriot and its affiliated brands. When Sen. Chuck Schumer publicly asked Marriott to replace affected customers’ passports, Marriott said, “Sure.”  

Critics, however, are saying that’s “baloney” (as eloquently put by FORTUNE). Marriott specifically said it would replace passports only if it can determine “fraud has taken place,” but there’s no way to know for sure if a customer was impacted since hackers fly under the radar. On top of that, the cost of replacing all the impacted passports could total $36 billion, roughly equivalent to the company’s entire valuation.  

If you’re going to make a promise to get yourself back on the nice list, it’s important to make a promise you can follow through on.  

Do the Right Thing 

What happens when you’re blamed for something that’s not actually your fault? American Airlines handled a bizarre situation quite artfully last week after it was blamed for leaving a 64-year-old woman in a wheelchair unattended at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.  

When the initial story published, American Airlines quickly issued an apologetic statement:  

“We have spoken with the family multiple times and met with them both in Chicago and Detroit yesterday. Our team has already refunded back the fare for this trip”

Officials reviewed the security footage and determined that the woman’s family did pick her up at the airport, so American Airlines wasn’t at fault. Instead of falling silent or pointing fingers at the accusing family, the airline issued a follow-up statement to clear the air:  

“We launched an investigation with our Chicago team and the vendor we utilize that provides wheelchair services at O’Hare. Ms. Warsaw was dropped off in the terminal at 12:30 a.m. CT on Dec. 1, and a family member arrived at the airport to pick her up at 1:13 a.m. CT.”

Think Before You Tweet 

Every week, it seems like there’s a new celebrity facing a scandal. Last week it was comedian Kevin Hart.  

Shortly after Hart agreed to host the Oscars in 2019, years-old anti-LGBTQ tweets sent by Hart resurfaced. The Academy gave Hart an ultimatum—apologize or step down.  

In a series of Instagram posts, Hart posted two videos that Variety called “churlish, defiant and indignant.” He didn’t try to apologize or realize he’d offended anyone until his third Instagram post.  

“In this day and age you’ve got minutes, if not seconds to deal with a crisis,” said Andrew Blum, head of the crisis PR firm AJB Communications. “You always offer the most apologetic statement first, and he didn’t.” 




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