Managing a Crisis

Background: Throughout the course I have mentioned United Airlines and its major incident from last year on April 9, 2017. If you do not recall, a passenger was forcibly removed from a flight. The incident was caught on numerous cell phone cameras. Videos were immediately posted to social media and people demanded an explanation. The passenger was eventually identified as Dr. David Dao, 69, of Kentucky, who sustained a concussion, a broken nose and lost two teeth during the episode.

The company’s first response placed the blame for the episode on Dr. Dao. In a statement on Monday morning, United said, “We apologize for the overbook situation,” but made no reference to Dr. Dao or the video. (Later, the company would clarify that the flight was not actually overbooked.)

Eventually this incident brewed into a full blown public relations nightmare.


Begin by reading the entire New York Times article that includes a timeline and all of the communication from United Airlines (including some internal communication).

Your job is to rewind time and respond to this using your newly acquired public relations skills. You must use terminology lifted directly from the book. Citations are not necessary but it should be obvious you are using the book.

Here are the required components of this assignment:

Make sure you answer all of these questions!

Write up a plan for research. What kinds of information should be gathered BEFORE your response? You have the value of hindsight; you should know what information is valuable by now.
This video was posted to social media, develop a response plan for social media. Many many people will be tweeting or posting to Facebook. You should write up a guide for responding, and a few sample responses.
Prepare a social media video. Who is in it? Why? What is the setting? Write up a script accordingly.

All of these components should communicate a strategy of some kind and work together as a cohesive message.

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