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Boeing is losing more than just trust—how marketing and business outcomes must align

by | Jun 6, 2019 | Public Relations

Each day, there are over 10,000 Boeing aircrafts taking flight around the world to hundreds of airports, servicing over 6.5 million passengers in the past year. Since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines’ 737 Max 8, the company has lost over $27 billion dollars in market value, with stock down nearly 15 percent from its high of $446/share.

Recent incidents have done damage to the confidence of the traveling public, and there’s no doubt that this diminished consumer trust is due not only to the events that occurred, but to the lack of direction and focus of the Boeing organization to effectively and confidently handle the questions these events have engendered with the public.

Stories of whistle blowers and ongoing maintenance flaws in the servicing of these aircrafts have done little to repair the reputational damage—and as they continue circulate, cast an even greater doubt about the quality and viability of the aircraft. Boeing is yet another big company that had something potentially harmful to hide from its customers.

With its 737 grounded and flyers cautious, where is Boeing going?

As we enter the peak season for vacation travel on a global basis, one would wonder whether the media will refresh a fear of flying with Boeing

It may be that the Boeing response in terms of their PR efforts has been virtually nonexistent in consumer media, and being reactive is not a winning strategy from a PR standpoint for Boeing.  Waiting for the next shoe to drop before you develop your confidence-building narrative doesn’t speak well for a multi-billion-dollar company. What has the company done in recent months to repair the significant market value of the company?

As PR professionals, we find ourselves wondering about the narrative that Boeing is promoting

How is the brand restoring confidence among frequent flyers and investors? Many legacy marketers still view PR as an appendage in their marketing mix; nice to have, but not all that mission-critical. For Boeing and others in the economy today, nothing could be further from the truth.

In a real-time news cycle and business environment, a solid PR strategy is an essential component of a viable marketing strategy. Each component of these initiatives either contributes to the success of the overall marketing strategy in achieving specific business outcomes, or doesn’t. On the top of the list of Boeing’s business outcome priorities must be regaining the $27 billion-dollar loss in the market value of the company. Secondly, it should be to regain lost confidence of the flying public and Boeing’s flight partners in the efficacy of the aircraft.

With its 737 grounded and flyers cautious, where is Boeing going?

In both respects, the company comes up severely lacking

While splashy advertising can put band-aids on the problem, it is the reinforcement of the strategic influencers in the industry that can reaffirm their support.

In the Boeing aircraft and leadership team, so far all we have heard from the company is the sounds of silence. What are they waiting for? Whether it’s driving incremental sales of their planes or recruiting staff for their operations, the image and credibility of the brand has been tarnished – not so much from the crashes, but from the inaction of the brand to take control of the narrative in real time media. The larger the distance between negative events and a robust addressing of the issues that cause uncertainty, the higher altitude needed to achieve some level of stability.

It’s clear that there are significant business outcomes that are being derailed as a result of a mishandling of PR related activities and leadership at the brand

The proof of this impact can be measured in the growing stagnation of the market value of the Boeing stock, and it’s clear that negative events have impact on business outcomes and goals. We see storm clouds on the horizon as Boeing continues to fly on what they perceive as clear and cloudless air. Without the radar turned on, it’s likely that Boeing will miss its landing destination as a business. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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Al DiGuido
Al DiGuido is President and Chief Revenue Officer of North 6th Agency.

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