Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 35

FBO MATTERS
arms and a phalanx of attorneys. So how - even if the statement is the truth as
could this happen?
it is then known - could render that
More i mpor t a nt ly, a nd the
insured party's coverage invalid. Imagine
faithfully paying your insurer for years -
question that affects all industries and
decades perhaps - and rendering all of it
all companies large and small is one
deserving of reflection: Has our society
moot because of a 15-second soundbite.
become so litigious that we cannot
It is no wonder when the media
sincerely apologize for a genuine mistake
comes calling that companies go running
without causing additional liability for
for the hills. But a curt "no comment" is
our company?
equally callous. Can one strike a balance?
We asked Paul Lange, Managing
Most companies are not aerospace giants
Member of the Law Offices of Paul A. like United or Boeing. Most don't have
attorneys on staff, or public relations
Lange, LLC, a boutique aviation law
firm that litigates these issues following
firms on retainer. And clearly, a policy
aviation accidents and incidents, and
where only the C-suite is authorized to
who proactively works with clients to
make statements to the media is a fool's
errand when those CEOs may sound like
prepare emergency response plans as
well as advising on emergency response
out-of-touch fools.
management. Says Lange: "There is a
Though even the most wellnatural tension in the wake of an incident
planned public relations response is a
or accident, particularly in the highly- veritable field of landmines, there are
regulated environment of aviation. That
a few universal best practices worth
tension involves two pieces. The legal
considering. First, ensure your public
piece, and business and public-relations
relations management plan is extensive
piece. Superimposed on top of it is
and incorporated into your emergency
insurance, and the obligations the insured
response plan. A single line item buried
has to their insurer."
in your ERP that says: "Only so-andAs a result, it is often challenging
so individual is authorized to make
to strike an appropriate balance and be
statements on behalf of the company" is
genuine, conciliatory and apologetic, alarmingly inadequate.
particularly in the eyes of a company's
Next, consider that just because a
General Counsel, who as Lange notes, person is a C-level individual or has a
fancy title doesn't automatically qualify
has altogether conf licting needs and
them to speak to the media. While one
obligations than those of the public
relations department or any other single
certainly hopes those skills intersect,
constituency. "While industry culture
the business of running a company is an
altogether different skill set than being a
has changed in recent years for the
positive - you can't just deny everything
thoughtful, articulate - and believable
and go hide under the rug - you still - speaker. Hence, send the individuals
have to be careful of what you say. Keep
tasked with making statements on your
in mind a General Counsel's primary
company's behalf to formal training on
obligation is protecting the corporation
media relations.
Practice your ERP annually, if not
going forward."
Insurance is another aspect
more frequently if time permits, and
place an oversized emphasis on the media
altogether, equally at odds with the
aspects of the plan. In the wake of an
very human notion of apology. The
incident or accident, it's often not who
wrong statement by an insured party

to involve at the FAA or the NTSB, or
what forms to fill out that is the hard
part. It's the legal, public relations, and
insurance pieces. Focus your ERP drill
instead on the areas you're not strong at,
as opposed to the parts you're already
comfortable with.
Returning to Lange, he says: "Above
all, let's make sure the company speaks
with one clear voice. Folks typically
believe that if they just tell the truth,
everything will be fine. The problem
is that 'the truth' is only as accurate
as how thoughtful and well informed
the speaker is at that moment." The
situation involving the 737MAX is
instructive: Pilots, mechanics, engineers
and leadership at Boeing all experienced
the same situation differently, so
for each group, there is a different
truth. To illustrate this point, Lange
asks rhetorically: "When you or I say
something inaccurate, is that a mistake,
or is it a lie?" Only the court of public
opinion (or a judge or jury) can make that
determination - or be led to a conclusion
by a savvy attorney.
Finally, though no canned statement
will ever fully suffice - it doesn't hurt
to be straightforward and maintain
integrity. Statements such as "We take
ownership in everything that we do
and if the investigation determines that
we could have done something better,
we're committed to doing that" meets
the public relations litmus test of "do no
additional harm" because as a general
matter, notes Lange, subsequent remedial
measures are inadmissible in court.
In the aviation business, we have
a duty to the travelling public to place
safety of life above all else. When the
unthinkable happens, we have an equal
duty to be ready to provide a reassuring
and accurate voice to affected families,
employees, customers and the public. 

JUNE/JULY 2019 \ AVIATIONPROS.COM / 35


http://www.AVIATIONPROS.COM

Airport_Business_June-July_2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Airport_Business_June-July_2019

Inside the Fence
Industry Update
A Forward Look Into the Past
The Rise of Secondary Airports
Not Your Parents' Boarding Bridge
Find Success in Fuel Training
A Stream of New Revenue Management
Media Relations After an Accident: Are You Ready?
Airport Guru
Legal Matters
Product Focus
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 1
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 2
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 3
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 4
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 5
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - Inside the Fence
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 7
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - Industry Update
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 9
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - A Forward Look Into the Past
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 11
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 12
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 13
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - The Rise of Secondary Airports
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 15
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - Not Your Parents' Boarding Bridge
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 17
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 18
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 19
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 20
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 21
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 22
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 23
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 24
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 25
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - Find Success in Fuel Training
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 27
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 28
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 29
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - A Stream of New Revenue Management
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 31
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 32
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 33
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - Media Relations After an Accident: Are You Ready?
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 35
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - Airport Guru
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 37
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - Legal Matters
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 39
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - Product Focus
Airport_Business_June-July_2019 - 41
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