When I was 16, I thought U2’s Bono had it all figured out. The song “With or Without You” just made sense. The lyrics applied to so many aspects of my life and Bono seemed to guide my mind through a little journey filled with knowledge, awareness, humility and realism. This morning as I was reading the news and drinking my coffee, I laughed at how I once again felt drawn to this artist because of the thoughtfulness and insight of his words. Only this time, I wasn’t looking at his message through the eyes of a confused teenage girl, rather, as a PR professional and how he handled his recent PR crisis.

 

As detailed in a recent article , U2’s latest album, Songs of Innocence, was uploaded to iTunes users’ libraries for free download on Sept. 9. While some loved the generosity, what was intended to be a gift to the world ended up creating a PR crisis for U2. Many didn’t like the idea that this music was “forced” upon them and their device. Regardless of your viewpoint on whether or not the music “push” was a good idea or not, there is little argument from a PR perspective that Bono has handled the criticism like a pro. Read on to trace Bono’s response through the suggested elements of responding to a crisis:

  • Respond quickly and at the flashpoint: U2 was quick to respond and in the areas in which the discussions were happening (social media channels, chat rooms, etc.). Too often, in a crisis, the response is slow or it happens in the wrong spot (such as in the newspaper even though the discussion is happening on Twitter). Bono’s response even integrated the channels in which we listen and play music, as well as comment about others. He stated that “There’s a lot of noise out there. I guess we got a little noisy ourselves to get through it.”
  • Admit fault where needed: Bono’s response showed humility and complete grace. He didn’t defend his actions, rather explained, apologized and showed great restraint. In response to the criticism, Bono is noted as replying as follows: “Oops. I’m sorry about that. I had this beautiful idea and we got carried away with ourselves. Artists are prone to that kind of thing. Drop of megalomania, touch of generosity, dash of self-promotion, and deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years mightn’t be heard.”

Once again, at least for this PR pro, Bono’s message just makes sense.

CCI has extensive experience handling crisis communications including the assembly of plans, training, as well as dealing with the media during a crisis.  To learn more, contact us today!