Having a crisis plan in place is a good start, but it’s not enough. The right response has to be part of the organization’s character, part of its DNA.
Two companies have hurt themselves and eroded their own reputations with woefully tone-deaf responses to events. As these cases are analyzed in the weeks to come, crisis planning will undoubtedly be invoked. In both cases, though, all the planning in the world wouldn’t have stopped these businesses—Uber and Sony—from responding based on their respective core natures.
When an unbalanced gunman with a long history with local police took hostages in a Sydney cafe, Uber could have taken some steps toward rebuilding its already-sullied reputation by offering free rides to people who needed to get out of areas being evacuated. Instead, the ride-sharing service implemented its controversial surge pricing, charging four times normal fares.
Facing predictable backlash, the company at first defended the quadrupled rates, claiming it was the way to motivate drivers to show up during the crisis. The outrage only grew, however, and the company finally backed off and started giving away the free rides it should have offered in the first place.