The Public Relations Strategist

Helping Leaders Avoid a Crisis With Empathy, Gratitude and Generosity

October 26, 2017

[getty images]
[getty images]

The tone-deaf elite. We can cite example after example, some extreme. Take former BP CEO Tony Hayward. In 2010, after 11 died in the offshore-rig explosion that started a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, he told reporters, “I’d like my life back.”

In 2015 there was Martin Shkreli, founder and, at that time, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. After his company raised the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 to $750 and he sent emails celebrating the profit margin, Shkreli called the move altruistic, saying “my whole life has been one theme, of self-sacrifice for my investors.” He later laughed his way through congressional testimony.

This past April, there was United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz. After a passenger was bloodied while being dragged off an overbooked flight to make room for an employee, Munoz apologized for having to “reaccommodate these customers,” saying that the incident was “upsetting” to everyone at the company. He, of course, did not mention the feelings of the man who was dragged, the other passengers or the horrified public who viewed cellphone footage of the “reaccommodations” online. The public recoiled from the BP spill’s devastating effects on lives, livelihoods and the environment. It grew outraged on behalf of the HIV and cancer patients who depended on Turing medications that many could no longer afford. And it had visceral reactions to hearing the screams of the doctor pulled from United’s plane.

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