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Opinion

United Airlines Should’ve Known That Blaming the Victim Always Backfires

By Irving Schenkler

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Blaming the victim: a problematic, pathetic tactic in the crisis communication playbook that invariably backfires.

These days, almost every entity, concept, or idea lives—and sometimes dies—on the basis of optics. Visualization is an extension of story-telling, and corporations have learned how vital it has become to tell your story to customers, shareholders, equity analysts, employees, and other significant stakeholders.

So what is United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz’s story about how and why passenger David Dao was rudely and untimely ripped from his less-than-comfortable but paid-for seat, and dragged spread-eagled down that narrow aisle? He was, Munoz said, “belligerent.” Perhaps he really meant to say, “persistent,” channeling Mitch McConnell’s indictment of Elizabeth Warren, and just got it wrong. Perhaps he thought a “belligerent” passenger would summon sympathy for the unfortunate but well-meaning United personnel who were hell-bent to get the show on the road.

Blaming the victim: a problematic, pathetic tactic in the crisis communication playbook that invariably backfires.

Read the full article as published by Fortune.  
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Irv Schenkler is a Clinical Professor and Director of the Management Communication Program at New York University's Stern School of Business.