Tag Archives: crisis communication

Uber Autonomous Car Accident

Autonomous cars have clocked thousands of hours and millions of miles without having an accident. In fact, one of the original reasons for developing autonomous cars was to lower automobile accident rates. (According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016 more than 37,000 people died in traffic-related accidents in the U.S. alone.)

Yet, despite all the precautions, technology, testing, training, and resources, an autonomous car operated by Uber (with an emergency backup driver behind the wheel) hit and killed a pedestrian on a street in Tempe, Arizona. This is the first reported pedestrian death that is linked to autonomous driving, and a stark reminder that the technology is still in an experimental stage. Although the technology has been around now for close to a decade, there are many unpredictable situations that the cars have not yet been programmed to handle. Many of these situations also present ethical dilemmas, as well as life-and-death decisions.

Uber has suspended testing the autonomous cars in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto. Toyota has also suspended its autonomous driving program.

What will be the impact on the public perception and the technology?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the pros and cons of autonomous cars with students.
  2. Show a video from Uber that explains its autonomous car project: https://youtu.be/27OuOCeZmwI
  3. Discuss public relations and crisis communications.
  4. Have student go online to read comments and stories about the accident.
  5. What statements did Uber make? What additional statement were made by other autonomous car companies?
  6. Did Uber take appropriate action following the accident?
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team prepare a crisis communications plan for Uber. Include in the plan: spokespeople, news outlets, key message statements, timing of responses, social media, etc.

Source:  New York Times, Wall Street Journal, other news sources

Leave a comment

Filed under Classroom Activities

Where’s the Chicken?

In what might arguably be one of the most ironic situations faced by a restaurant, KFC ran out of chicken and had to close more than half of its 900 restaurants in the UK. Yes, you read that right – Kentucky Fried Chicken ran out of chicken (which I guess makes it KF instead of KFC).

The supply chain issue that closed the 562 outlets was blamed on switching KFC’s delivery contract from South African-owned distribution group Bidvest Logistics to DHL. DHL blamed “operational issues” for the snafu. Some of the outlets were able to remain open, but with a limited menu.

Indeed, one can understand that it is a complex task to get fresh chicken to 900 restaurants across the country. According to news reports, the GMB union warned KFC that switching suppliers was a mistake. It certainly appears that they were right.

(Update: As of Feb. 28, 97% of KFC stores were open, but according to Reuters the company is now reporting facing another shortage… this time it’s gravy!)

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. In order to be successful, companies must be able to physically get a product into the hands of the customers. Discuss how a distribution channel works.
  2. Show the video of the KFC issue: https://youtu.be/jM53cQJACCg
  3. For KFC, what distribution channels are used now?
  4. How can the channel be expanded? What approach could be used?
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a flow chart for the distribution of the product.

Source:   BBC (19 February, 2018). Chicken chaos as KFC closes outlets.

Leave a comment

Filed under Classroom Activities

Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

Listening to the recent news of the disaster in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the scope of the devastation and needs of those affected by the storm. Hurricane Harvey released more than 24.5 trillion gallons of rain, devastating communities and displacing thousands of families and businesses.

But, it is often in times of greatest need that people and companies join together to help those who need it most, without asking for anything in return. Companies are providing money, food, water, donations, and solutions around the area. Some examples:

  • Anheuser-Busch stopped beer production in Georgia to instead produce more than 155,000 cans of water to areas affected by Harvey.
  • Kroger Foundation committed to $100,000 to the Houston Food Back and is donating $5 for every retweet of #KrogerCares.
  • Google pledged $2 million and is also providing urgent information to those in impacted areas, creating a real-time crisis map to help those on the ground.
  • CVS pharmacy is moving its mobile pharmacy trailers into the area to help people with medications, in addition to monetary donations.

It doesn’t stop with companies. Many celebrities and athletes have donated money directly and through foundations to help Texas residents.

Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. Roughly 89% of global citizens think companies should use their unique abilities and assets to lend assistance during a disaster.

It feels good to help.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss with students the social responsibilities that companies have to the public. What is their opinion?
  2. Should companies publicize their contributions?
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team research online the level of support that has been donated by companies.
  4. One list can be found at https://youtu.be/hANXIPxN1ME
  5. Build a list on the white board of the companies, donation amount, and items.
  6. Discuss the role of crisis communication during dire times.

Source:  Texas Tribune, CNN, CNBC, New York Times, other news sources

Leave a comment

Filed under Classroom Activities