The silence from cab service companies in India is deafening



More than 48 hours after a girl was raped by an Uber cab driver in Delhi, none of the cab companies have issued a statement. Where do these companies stand after the incident? The Delhi government has banned all private radio taxi services and we still don't know what these companies have to say.
The deafening silence is another classic example of how the Public Relations team and the management have failed to communicate. At the very least, one would think they would issue a statement in support of the victim. The fault could vary from the PR team or the management, either way, most taxi providers have done themselves no favours.
Uber, on the other hand, has got it all wrong. Again. They've blamed the government, the law, the difficulty in verifying background checks, everything but themselves. Their communication has been knee-jerk and a study in how not to respond without understanding and listening to where the conversation is headed. This comes as no surprise to me after following Uber's snafus in the past year or so.
I was interested to know how Uber handles this situation, considering a few months back, Uber's General Manager Chris Nakutis said that Public Relations is a waste of money. He said, "new companies can almost jump over the PR process."Almost. Since Mr. Nakutis said this, Uber has threatened to hire investigators to snoop in on journalists, flout laws in half a dozen areas and has shot itself in the foot more than once.
PR is not an intermediary, it's not an iron wall that can protect top execs from criticisms. PR's primary purpose is to help communicate. In this example, PR could've functioned as a medium to send the right message, train public execs whose core expertise may not be in speaking to the media. In my short career, I've heard enough of "I didn't mean to say that.."s, but said it anyway. Communication is not everyone's forte. Most certainly not Uber's.
This incident provided a chance for other cab service companies to take a rain check, say the right things and act on it. Yet most of them are oblivious, confused and paralysed even after a good two days since the incident. Shocking.
Few things that could have been done -
  1. Release a statement on how driver verifications are done.
  2. Take a proactive measure - hire an independent agency to do a complete background check on drivers
  3. Banning Uber was not a solution. Take a stand. Would autos be banned if an auto driver commits the same incident? Would bus drivers be banned? Rape has nothing to do with the profession. Absolutely nothing. Convey that message. (The government's version says it has banned companies for flouting certain rules and not because of the incident. If that were true, a ban is not only harsh, but extreme)
  4. Talk to the public, let them give their views. See what works and how such incidents can be averted.
I'm still waiting for a company to stand up and take a stand. At the very least, communicate and tell the public what has been done to avert such incidents. And for those who wonder what role PR plays and its significance? Please fell free to show them this article.

This article first appeared in - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141210120652-49448847-the-silence-from-cab-service-companies-in-india-is-deafening


8 comments:

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