When you have a product that kills someone, don’t just “peloton,” do something! In other words, don’t just apologize, take action so it won’t happen again.
Thus, it seems a new word has entered the PR crisis management lexicon.
Perhaps “don’t peloton” will now join phrases like “stop Boeing a dead horse.” Stop blaming others. Do something yourself to make sure it doesn’t happen again!
This of course is a reference to how another high-flying company seemed to strongly intimate that the deadly 737 Max crashes were much more the pilot’s then their plane’s fault.
So, when you have product that’s responsible for a child’s death, you need to do sooner what Peloton has finally done after seemingly frozen for weeks in the headlights of the House consumer-protection subcommittee’s chair urging the company to recall its treadmills
First thing we learned in crisis management is to take responsibility, then take actions to see it never happens again. We’re supposed to apologize if someone is hurt or killed using one of our products, then take immediate steps to make sure the problem or flaw is fixed, whether it involves emergency repairs or a full recall.
While it took too long, the good news from a PR standpoint is that Peloton apologized on May 5 for failing to act promptly after reports that its treadmills are potentially dangerous. Eventually, the company recalled them and will now halt sales of one treadmill model linked to the death of a 6-year-old.
The bad news is Peloton took weeks before it acted decisively after it had stubbornly ignored calls for a recall from politicians, federal regulators and others. Peloton’s botched response may go down as another egregious example of how not to deal with a crisis.
The question for Peloton now is how much this scandalous episode will dent the reputation of its main business, exercise bicycles, the demand for which has soared during the pandemic along with its stock price, now backtracking a bit.
As the pandemic abates, all businesses now will be heading back out into deeper waters with more valuable assets aboard, so it’s essential they keep an experienced PR firm at their side 24/7. This is not only to keep media informed and excited about new developments and progress, but to manage any crisis that might come up along the way as the company grows.
Tom Madden is an author, speechwriter and public relations expert who is founder and CEO of the international PR firm TransMedia Group (www.transmediagroup.com). Prior to launching the firm in New York City, Madden was Vice President, Assistant to the President, of NBC and was head of PR Planning at American Broadcasting Companies. Among his books are his autobiography “Spin Man” and “King of the Condo,” a murder mystery thriller that satirically depicts life in a Florida condo based on his own harrowing experience as a condo president. His latest book WORDSHINE MAN is due out this summer. He currently writes a blog called “MaddenMischief’ (https://maddenmischief.com/), which chronicles his sometimes whimsical, comical and critical views on politics, media and other subjects.