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  • Jennifer Hamad

Uber: A Smooth Ride in the Company's Public Relations

Updated: Apr 20

How Uber still manages to have positive PR after previous scandals


By: Jennifer Hamad

The logo for Uber

Being a loyal customer to Uber for about six years, I can say that I've never had a poor experience with the company's response to any complaints I may have had over the years. I found that Uber appeals to me for many reasons, with their positive public relations skills being one of them, and I decided to take the time and find out why. After doing a bit of research, I noticed that a few years ago, Uber went through some scandals that dug them into a deep hole and caused their PR reputation to drop with their users. After reading through these articles, I was somewhat shocked because I was unaware that this had happened, and I always saw Uber as being a great service. But then I remembered that there is one thing that Uber excels at that drives them (pun intended) to have better PR than other competitors: their customer service.



What is Public Relations?


Let’s first take a small step back and discuss what exactly is public relations. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) the definition of public relations is stated as follows:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

This definition is one that is accurate and stands out simply because it says “mutually beneficial.” There are many organizations that believe they have good PR but end up having one-sided relationships with their publics instead. Although this is an accurate definition of PR, one thing it is missing is the word “positive.” Being able to maintain a positive relationship between an organization and their publics is also very crucial in ensuring the company is withholding good PR.



Uber and Their Customer Service


As mentioned earlier, Uber excels at their customer service. One example proving that is the story of Benjamin Wilson. While he is the director of marketing at ITN International, he is also a loyal customer to Uber. As a frequent traveler, Wilson uses Uber very often and the company is quite aware of that. During one of his rides, he experienced a negative encounter with the driver and immediately following the ride, he sent in a complaint to the company. Within a day, they saw his report and responded to him with a sincere apology, four free rides and the assurance that they would contact the driver and deal with them.


When it comes to PR, having excellent customer service is important. Maintaining customer satisfaction within the company leads to their publics having a positive attitude toward the organization, thus having mutually beneficial relationships between the two. Uber does a great job at this by encouraging their users to provide feedback so that whenever there is a possible negative situation, they can respond and handle it in a positive manner to ensure their customers are taken care of and satisfied at the end of the day.



Another Uber Spotlight


As we all know it (and dread it), there is still a pandemic amongst our lives. COVID-19 has been around for two years now and organizations have had to find ways to work with this battle. When it came to Uber, they had a very positive response to the virus. In order to make sure their employees and riders are safe, they ordered a mask mandate. This meant that both Uber drivers and riders had to wear a mask while in the same vehicle and throughout the whole ride. Some drivers even went as far as putting a plastic frame in their car that separated them from the riders. This shows how serious Uber takes situations like this and how much they care about the well-being of their publics. With this positive response to COVID-19, users felt comfortable continuing to use the service, knowing that they were being taken care of.



Climate Change


One cannot discuss Uber’s positive PR actions without bringing up their involvement in social issues. Uber is a very strong advocate toward climate change and they are doing what they can to fight against it. In their involvement with this, they are partnering with many others to help bring our environment to become one that is cleaner and healthier for all to live in. With their partnerships, they are bringing their innovation and technology to make positive changes such as gaining access to green vehicles that will be affordable for drivers. To keep up with this data, Uber has an environmental, social and governance (ESG) report that shows how they help with making lives easier for everyone.


After undergoing all this research, I believe that Uber meets the definition of PR that I provided. With all that I have discussed regarding their positive PR actions in regards to their customer service, COVID-19 response and social involvement, they clearly utilize strategic communications to build mutually beneficial relationships with their publics.



About the Author

Hello, my name is Jennifer Hamad and I am a public relations professional in Frisco, Texas. I am studying journalism with a concentration in PR and a minor in communications at the University of North Texas and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in May 2022.









Sources

https://www.prsa.org/about/all-about-pr

https://bradleypr.byu.edu/index.php/2017/06/21/what-uber-can-teach-us-about-good-public-relations/#:~:text=Uber%20can%20teach%20public%20relations,them%20to%20share%20their%20opinions.&text=Uber%20has%20done%20a%20good%20job%20in%20realizing%20this.%E2%80%9D

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/04/ubers-pr-nightmare-a-field-guide/523269/

https://www.theverge.com/2016/3/10/11196352/uber-secret-emergency-hotline-panic-button-kalamazoo

https://www.uber.com/us/en/about/sustainability/#:~:text=Learn%20more-,Partnering%20to%20fight%20climate%20change,clean%20and%20just%20energy%20transition.

https://s23.q4cdn.com/407969754/files/doc_downloads/2021/07/Uber-2021-ESG-Report.pdf?uclick_id=1d495fa4-22d3-4895-aa6d-ec8052a3d094