Public relations · Marketing

Uber’s PR Strategy?

Nate Holbrook Founder / CEO at Lilac

October 17th, 2015

The latest in a long line of PR issues for Uber including (driver assault cases, an unapologetic CEO, & now a driver’s strike over the weekend)- Yet Uber has remained unapologetic about all of these issues, is this the right strategy?


Andy Abramson CEO, Comunicano

October 17th, 2015

Uber doesn't comment because drivers are not employees.  If they commented on the situations they would risk taking responsibility

Edward M. Yang

October 18th, 2015

David Schwartz, the issue with Uber isn't its focus or lack of focus on its core business. It's the ethically questionable things they do that makes one shake their head. Is it a legitimate business practice to order and cancel 5,000 Lyft rides? Peter Thiel called Uber the "most ethically challenged company in Silicon Valley". How about Uber suggesting they dig up dirt on journalists who write negative things about them?

This is the type of blowback you can expect when you not only cross the line but you obliterate it: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2472326,00.asp

This isn't a "distracting sideshow" as you put it. It's a disturbing pattern of "win at all costs" mentality. I find it personally repulsive, regardless of the success Uber achieves.

helloandyhihi

October 17th, 2015

I imagine you have both Uber and Lyft icons on your iPhone. Which one do you use most? 

As companies like Tom's gain traction by selling us on making the world a better place, it's interesting to see some companies be openly dick-ish. 
 
With Uber and Lyft, one company is unapologetic, ruthless, even defiant of regulators. While the other is friendly. 

I know this, yet I always choose Uber. 

It's not a warm and friendly brand like Asana or Etsy. But when I want a car to come pick me up, I guess I'm not looking to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. Or even a fist bump. 

Steve Simitzis Founder and CEO at Treat

October 17th, 2015

Uber's PR strategy seems to be "we have the best product, the market has spoken, the rest is noise" and otherwise they don't do anything to get in front of this stuff. Time will tell if that works or blows up in their face.

John Philpin People | Passion | Platforms

October 17th, 2015

no - but it fits with their 'culture' - if 'Uber culture' isn't an oxymoron.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

October 17th, 2015

As AndyB implies, different categories favor different brand attributes. Would you rather roll up in a black sedan driven by Darth Vader or a Yaris driven by a Clifford the Big Red Dog furry?

Very few people *really* care about whether someone is being treated poorly. Otherwise you would have never bought that iPhone with the cover from Amazon that you use to call your Uber. 


Edward M. Yang

October 17th, 2015

Uber is the rare company where bad news slides off then like Teflon. Their market leadership, brand aura and legion of fans seem to defy the negative publicity. I wouldn't use them as a typical case study on how bad PR doesn't matter. It does. And in the tech industry, we know all too well that today's market leader can be tomorrow's punchline. I wouldn't be too arrogant if I were them.

John Philpin People | Passion | Platforms

October 18th, 2015

as michael b writes 

"Very few people *really* care about whether someone is being treated poorly." 

.. which I think is sad for the human race, cannot be denied and unfortunately as we continue to live in our ever protected and isolated bubbles, becomes even more true. Not just with uber - everywhere. look around you. listen to public discourse.

Daniel Turner Interaction Designer, Xerox PARC

October 20th, 2015

Personally, I use Flywheel. Same level of service, plus I am more secure knowing the drivers have had background checks and carry commercial insurance. Also, the whole thing pays back into the tax base of the city I care about.

(Not to mention the "data posts" on Uber's blog are very poor scholarship, if not outrightly deceptive, as their assertion that Uber's presence correlates with lower DUI rates. There is at most a rough correlation, going only by their assertion, as the do not make their data nor their analysis public, so there's no way to check.)

Plus, yes, I think someone used "dickish" above. True that.

Mostly, I use the not awful public transit. I've taken a cab maybe three times in the last few months. I encourage people to check out Flywheel.

Daniel Turner Interaction Designer, Xerox PARC

October 20th, 2015

Also, I question whether Uber (and Theranos) are really motivated by and focused on "proving a vision that today's technology doesn't support". Bell Labs was about that -- they weren't about market value or options, but about building new technology (and making it available). If that were the case, as asserted above, they'd be building infrastructure, partnerships, lobbying for real regulatory reform, not spending all their time chasing valuation. And by the way, how is Uber's business model being proven? No route to profitability, no network effect or lock-in, reliant at this stage on unsustainable growth.