By Danny Cavanaugh
Throughout our lives, we all have certain crisis’ that we must go through. Whether your a female deciding what clothes to pick out for that “special” date, or you’ve experienced an unfortunate car crash, which resulted in legal obligations and hospital bills, a crisis of some magnitude is inevitable in our futures.
After watching the movie Sully, I came to a realization that the airline (U.S. Airways) had a major crisis on their hands. On January 15, 2009, one of their planes had to perform an emergency landing in the Hudson river, after a flock of birds took out both engines of the aircraft, according to airwaysmag.com.
The man seen above is Sully who was brave enough, and experienced enough to make the decision to land the plane in the Hudson.
So, what crisis? After all, every soul on board was saved, how can there be a crisis? As we know, people often look for the negative story, “if it bleeds it reads.” so even though lives were saved, a plane was still in the Hudson.
I can only imagine the shock and sense of urgency that the PR crisis team must have felt for U.S. Airways. An immediate response was necessary for their employees, shareholders, stakeholders, and the public. However, several questions had to be answered.
What caused the accident? Were there any alternative landing spots? Who or what is responsible for this incident?
These are just a few of the questions that needed to be answered. Can you imagine if there were any fatalities on board? Would consumers lack confidence in flying with U.S. Airways if that were the case?
With that said, PR professionals know to tell the truth, tell it all, tell it fast, and move on when it comes to a crisis.
Fortunately enough, Mr. Sully was able to perform the emergency landing in heroic fashion, with only a few injuries to passengers and crew.
Tom Hanks- scene from the movie after passengers were safely rescued.
Thus, is there a proper way to handle a crisis? Do people botch critical moments in crisis communications?
The answer to these two questions is yes. The proper way to handle a crisis is to remain calm, tell the truth, and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, as we saw with John Edwards destroying his own personal PR (the most important PR of all), but that’s for another post.
Auxier, Eric. (2016). The New “Sully” Movie: How Accurate. Airways. Retrieved from https://airwaysmag.com/capnaux/new-sully-movie-how-accurate/
Warner, Bros (Producer). Eastwood, Clint (Director). September 9, 2016. Sully (Motion picture). USA: Warner Bros.