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There are four months left in 2019, but it already feels like we’ve witnessed a year’s worth of scandal and crisis.
Last year, it was Facebook’s data misuse and Starbuck’s diversity missteps. This year, it’s Boeing’s 737 Max and retailers responding to gun violence in their communities.
For all that has changed about PR in the last several years, a couple of constants have stood out: a skeptical, outrage-prone consumer audience and a social media environment that thrives on online stone-throwing.
The experts’ advice? Be transparent. Be proactive. Have a crisis communications plan. It’s not novel advice—so why is there a new company every year trying to jam a finger into the reputational dike?
Here are the companies that found themselves underwater in 2019:
1. Boeing and the 737 Max crisis
After two tragic crashes and hundreds of lost lives, the truth came out that Boeing hadn’t alerted operators about all the new features on its latest popular airplane. The autopilot system that engaged during takeoff was susceptible to error—and pilots were furious that they hadn’t been warned.
The plane was grounded and has yet to return to the skies. The problem has been amplified for Boeing, because the 737 was one of its most popular models and airlines around the world have been forced to cancel flights and remove destinations from service while they wait for a fix.
However, the crisis takes a special place on our list of 2019 crisis stories because of Boeing’s tone-deaf response to