In my varied media career, I have also handled public relations for high-level events and clients. One of the first things on my checklist would be damage control and firefighting for reputation management. It’s pretty much like taking an insurance policy – imagine a worst-case scenario and be prepared. But Indian companies have been loathe to plan ahead and very few have a crisis management policy or plan for PR.
Air India is an example. While the airline could not have predicted that an inebriated passenger would pee on a passenger and that its pilot and crew would try to cover up, it seemed to have had no protocol to handle the fallout. After weeks of stalling, it filed an FIR but it took a lot more for the CEO to make a public apology and deroster the pilot and some crew. How different would it have been had Air India gotten ahead of the problem, owned responsibility and made a sincere apology much earlier. There is honour in a sincere apology. There is no honour in an apology that is extracted.
The paying public isn’t bothered about the haircut or nail polish or whatever constitutes the crew’s dress code. What they want is the belief that they can expect safe passage in its planes.