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What happens to a company if a key player is hospitalized?

By Katie Boyles

20316512_sHospitalization could cost your company more than you think

United Airlines’ newly named CEO Oscar Munoz immediate past COO of CSX was admitted to the hospital on Oct. 15, following an alleged heart attack. It happened just 39 days after he took the position. The company’s prior CEO resigned in September in the shadow of a possible bribery scandal. Now, United Airline’s image is suffering even more thanks to the publicity of Munoz’s hospitalization.

When media learned about Munoz’s hospital admittance, the news spread quickly. United Airlines shares fell: In afternoon trading, prices were down 3.2 percent to $55.93. S&P Capital IQ analyst Jim Corridore noted that investors may feel uneasy due to Munoz’s current health.

If Munoz had taken steps to ensure that his name did not appear in the hospital directory, he may have been able to avert this crisis. Athletes, executives, politicians and other celebrities must take greater measures toward privacy than the general public because the media is watching them. When a prominent figure is admitted to a hospital, there are ways to protect his privacy.

Seriously consider retaining the aid of PR experts to protect your company. A strong PR team would take action immediately to ensure that your company could survive a crisis. In cases such as this, an experienced firm could ensure that the patient – its client – remain unlisted in the hospital directory.

Employees and the public may indeed feel uneasy about United Airlines’ stability. Munoz held the position of CEO for only a short time before having a heart attack, and the company’s reputation was already tarnished from the alleged bribery scandal with the previous CEO. The news about Munoz’s hospitalization did not help its reputation.

Proactive measures are always more beneficial and effective than reactive crisis management. Know about hospital procedures concerning media relations. Know the steps to ensure your privacy during hospitalization.

On Oct. 19, the company stated that Vice President/General Counsel Brett J. Hart was appointed CEO while Munoz takes medical leave. The company spokesperson had no additional information; the general public is watching as United Airlines’ stability continues to deteriorate.

Axia Public Relations knows the importance of a good reputation. We also know the precautions to take for effective crisis management. Download our e-book Managing Public Relations in a Crisis to learn more.

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Katie Boyles is currently studying public relations at University of North Florida. She graduates in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in communication.

Featured image credit: 123rf.com

Topics: public relations, crisis communications

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