The last two weeks have created a goldmine for the crisis public relations industry, or at least for the pundits who comment about reputation train wrecks. United Airlines, Bill O’Reilly and now Juicero are dominating the news.
After the video of a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines flight in Chicago to make room for United employees went viral, the media, PR experts, the public, and the rest of the airline industry, predictably and rightfully so, went ballistic.
Besides the incredibly rude act, the blunders multiplied. After refusing to pay a decent voucher for the inconvenience of being removed, airline management initially refused to apologize and blamed the passenger. They appeared to justify the physical response. Then they sort of apologized, but not really, citing “airline rules.” Finally, after the stock dipped and the public turned on them, they pledged to do better in the future.
The glacial response allowed the media to find many other examples of this practice, extending the life of the story and deepening the damage. Leona Helmsley couldn’t have done worse.
This week Juicero entered the crisis zone. We haven’t heard this much uproar about “The Juice” since a white Ford Bronco raced across the 405 towards Brentwood.
If you missed it, the Juicero machine, which squeezes juice packets of fruits and vegetables via a Keurig-like machine, has swallowed some pulp. A Bloomberg News story, “Silicon Valley’s $400 Juicer May Be Feeling the Squeeze,” demonstrated that a reporter could crush the bag almost as well as the machine.
This development, after much Silicon Valley hype, hasn’t played well.
“Doug Evans, the company’s founder, would compare himself with Steve Jobs in his pursuit of juicing perfection,” Bloomberg noted.” He declared that his juice press wields four tons of force—“enough to lift two Teslas,” he said. Google’s venture capital arm and other backers poured about $120 million into the startup. Juicero sells the machine for $400, plus the cost of individual juice packs delivered weekly. Tech blogs have dubbed it a “Keurig for juice.”