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Immediate Responses to PR Crises Ensure Strong Brand Reputation

By Jenna Seter
November 09, 2017

Survey finds that seven months after United Airlines’ delayed response to its negative PR crisis, 30% of consumers lost a sense of trust and safety in the brand.

WASHINGTON, DC, November 9, 2017 – There is a relationship between how and when companies respond to public relations (PR) crises and their ability to maintain a solid brand reputation in the long term, according to a survey of 500 consumers who were familiar with United Airlines, Pepsi, and Uber’s public relations (PR) crises. B2B research firm Clutch found that brands such as United Airlines that wait to respond to negative PR crises and brands such as Uber that are relatively new to the market when they experience a PR crisis are more likely to lose customers.

United Airlines waited several weeks to respond to a video of an airline official forcibly removing a passenger from a flight. Consumers’ willingness to purchase flights from United Airlines dropped from 68% before the PR crisis to 42% immediately after. Seven months after the crisis, 30% of consumers say they will not buy flights from United because they lost a sense of trust and safety in the brand.

Consumers' Willingness to Fly With United Airlines

On the other hand, Pepsi responded immediately to the public’s negative feedback about a commercial featuring Kendall Jenner: Pepsi apologized and removed the ad. Consumers’ willingness to buy Pepsi products only dropped from 56% before the PR crisis to 55% immediately after.

As a young company, Uber’s customer base is relatively limited, which may hurt the brand after experiencing multiple PR crises in 2017. Consumer’s willingness to ride with Uber dropped from 60% before the PR crises to 47% immediately after the crises.

Clutch interviewed Tim Collins, Principal at Grisdale Advisors and former SVP of Experiential Marketing at Wells Fargo, to learn why it’s important to have a long-term PR strategy as a brand.

“Your long-term PR strategy hopefully builds the brand reputation that you can take to the bank when your company has a shorter-term PR issue,” said Collins.

Having a public relations strategy ready at all times is the most reliable way to ensure companies manage the long-term strength of their brand reputation in the event of a short-term PR crisis.

The report includes 500 consumers and measures their willingness to purchase products or services from United Airlines, Pepsi, and Uber before, immediately after, and seven months after each company underwent a severe public relations (PR) crisis.

To read the complete report, please visit:

For the raw data, a quotation on the findings, or an introduction to the experts interviewed for this report, contact Jenna Seter at [email protected].

About Clutch

A B2B research, ratings, and reviews firm in the heart of Washington, DC, Clutch connects small and medium businesses with the best-fit agencies, software, or consultants they need to tackle business challenges together and with confidence. Clutch’s methodology compares business service providers and software in a specific market based on verified client reviews, services offered, work quality, and market presence.


Jenna Seter

[email protected]

(202) 888-5181