A Year in Crisis: The Top Crises of 2017, Analyzed

I don’t know about you, but I’ve banged my hands on my desk and shouted “What were they thinking!!!” over a corporate crisis about 78 times this year.

It is easy to find fault in other people’s issues, but, as my long-time friend and mentor – Harold Burson of Burson-Marsteller – reminds me, “Never be too critical of a crisis if you’re not in the war room. You never know what variables were at play.”

He’s right. We’re not interested in kicking people when they’re down. We’re interested in helping business and communications executives learn from the experience of others.

My team and I collected some of the most interesting crises of 2017 and analyzed them against traditional approaches to crisis management, and then specifically against the five key principles outlined in my forthcoming book, Brand Under Fire: A New Playbook for Crisis Management in the Digital Age:

  1. Authenticity
  2. Transparency
  3. Speed
  4. Agility
  5. Creativity

Whittling the list of crises down was a difficult decision. Frankly, if more c-suite and communications professionals shifted their outdated and rote approach to crisis management, perhaps we wouldn’t have so many from which to choose.


  • United Airlines
  • The Las Vegas shootings
  • Uber
  • Equifax
  • Hurricane Harvey / Arkema chemical plant
  • Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport’s Blackout
  • Amtrak
  • Sexual misconduct





A new year is a great opportunity to gut-check your team’s readiness for bad news. Effective crisis management is not specific to what happens after an incident. It incorporates everything you’ve done to prepare for it. I challenge all business and communications professionals to act with urgency to modernize their strategy. Invest in it now and it will save tremendous amounts of money when something actually happens. Because just when you think it can’t happen – or it can’t be worse than last time – it does. And it is.

Get ready.

A Year in Crisis: The Top Crises of 2017, Analyzed#ConversationsInCrisisTWEET THIS
A new year is a great opportunity to gut-check your team’s readiness for bad news#ConversationsInCrisisTWEET THIS
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