3 Big Business Apology Strategies for CEOs

Written by on October 16, 2012 in Career - No comments | Print this page


Success doesn’t come without its downfalls, a big one being that all ‘fumbles’ will be publicised and handed over for public judgement. Whenever big corporations make a business faux pas, the standard procedure is to issue an apology to their consumer fans. One thing a big business cannot afford to forget is who made them big. As celebrities are so prone to quoting – the whole “I’m nothing without my fans” bit is one of those bitter-sweet truths that apply to the corporate world no less than it does to public figures.

Big Business = Big Apology

You’re probably thinking of gold fountains and freebies galore right? Surprisingly, big businesses often turn to the simplest channels of communication to appease the grumbling masses. No massive voucher distribution or grovelling for the top dogs. What is interesting, however, is the different ways in which businesses do choose to issue their apologies (see examples below).

3 Ways Big Businesses Apologise

  • NFL: The labour dispute that occurred between the National Football League and the NFL Referees Association isn’t likely to be forgotten by Americans in the next decade. A disagreement that caused the NFL to bring in replacement officials during the first the week of the 2012 Football season, football fans were soon enraged by a number of controversial play, including the one that led to the Seattle Seahawks win over the Green Bay Packers. Over one million outraged fan tweets later, Commissioner Goodell felt prompted to send out an apologetic email to footie supporters – who he said “deserved better.”
  • Apple: A big business like Apple rarely issues an apology for releasing low-quality products. This year, however, the company’s launch of the iPhone 5 alongside the latest Apple operating system was tarnished somewhat by their replacement of the Google maps app with their own homegrown mapping solution.

    An influx of user complaints about the deficiencies of the Apple maps, including the fact that developers had mislabelled major landmarks and missed significant details, eventually caused Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, to post a message on the brand’s homepage. Ironically Cook also encouraged users to use Google maps while his team address the issues with their own mapping service.

  • JetBlue: A storm in October of 2011 forced several JetBlue flights to divert to Hartford’s Bradley International Airport, in some instances stranding passengers for up to several hours. Despite the fact that there were no safety concerns, many of JetBlue’s customers were not happy with the airline’s service. JetBlue’s COO, Rob Maruster, took to YouTube to apologise to patrons in a one minute eighteen second video. He chose the largest video platform on the web to publish his business apology – a widely broadcast request for forgiveness customers were more likely to respond to.

As a big business, an apology should always be a top priority in the wake of a mistake or crisis. Consumers are always more likely to give brands another try, if they feel like their support is valued and appreciated. Successful businessmen know this better than anyone else.


This is a guest post.  Bella Gray is a corporate blogger from her Miami office space. A maestro of tips and strategies for navigating the workplace, Gray is the perfect go-to-gal for all your business solutions.


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