Earlier this month, Cho Hyun-ah, the daughter of Korean Air’s CEO and an executive at the airline, caused an international social media firestorm. She berated the crew of a Korean Air flight for serving macadamia nuts incorrectly, then forced the pilot to return to the gate while taxiing out of JFK. Her behavior sparked international headlines. Extensive analyses about the reputational fallout on Korean Air and her father’s business empire followed.
The Wall Street Journal’s “Crisis of the Week” column weighed in and invited me to comment. (I suggested that Cho Hyun-ah step out of the public eye for a period of time. When she makes a new start, she is in an optimum position to use her access to Korea’s wealth, power and influential as a platform for helping the less fortunate.)
Reputation Risk Isn’t New to Business…But Has Taken a More Prominent Role
Reputation risk isn’t new to business. But over the past two decades it has taken a more prominent role in the business world. The Internet, and social media in particular, has introduced a new level of transparency to business operations and culture, and a new level of empowerment to consumers.
If one employee makes a misstatement on social media, and it gains viral momentum in the community at large, it can be a crisis for the company. When that employee is the daughter or son of the company’s owner, it can become a defining one.