PR in the News: Uber’s response to Trump’s immigration ban

By: Allie Schwartz, Shelby Dewberry and Roya Forooghi

Uber, a popular worldwide transportation network, has been experiencing backlash after President Trump’s implementation of a ban of immigrants/green card/visa holders from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria, including refugees. The company suspended surge pricing after New York City taxi drivers abandoned their posts in order to protest the ban. This suspension was negatively received by a section of the public that oppose the ban, and as a result many people have deleted their Uber accounts and switched to Lyft, who announced a million dollar donation to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the next four years.

As a response to this, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick tweeted on January 29th that Trump’s travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries is “against everything Uber stands for.” He said that the ban affects thousands of Uber drivers, and as a result of this, Kalanick said that Uber would “compensate drivers for lost earnings if they are unable to work because of the ban.” As Kalanick is an adviser on the president’s economic council, he stated that he would urge Trump to “stand up for what is right.”

Uber is also using public relations to show the world what the company values. Kalanick said, “Ever since Uber’s founding we’ve had to work with governments and politicians of all political persuasions across hundreds of cities and dozens of countries.”  Through this statement and throughout the entire letter Kalanick wrote, it is clear that for Uber business and politics intersect frequently.  Uber prioritizes their employees. The CEO is making this known by using PR and working in the political sphere to make a difference where he can.


FullSizeRender 3The fact that the Uber CEOs have expressed their political views is rubbing a lot of people the wrong way, seeing as #deleteUber is trending all over the internet. Individuals are claiming that the CEOs have publicly stated that they are for Trump’s Muslim ban and they are advocating for people to delete the app to show their distaste for their support of Trump’s policies; however, after looking into the issue further, it became clear that the issue was blown out of proportion by social media users.


Upon Trump’s election, Uber CEO’s publicly stated that they supported Trump and would work with him to promote their mission of furthering global travel and ensuring that their consumers have the best experience possible, yet they never stated support for the recent Muslim ban.

To combat the negative press coming from the issue, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick came out with a more neutral statement on the issue informing the public that they will be helping out their employees who have been negatively affected by the ban pro-bono; however it is unclear how successful this will be after seeing how quickly and fervently the internet took to #deleteUber.

This whole PR disaster with Uber gave us some insight about PR that we can apply to our own campaign with PR day. First, this shows us how truly important PR is in every industry. If Uber had a better crisis communications plan, or if they had dealt with their CEOs’ comments about supporting Trump earlier before it had become a crisis, this whole situation could have gone a lot differently.

Additionally, this shows the power of PR and how it can help repair broken bridges as Uber is offering to help their drivers who have been negatively impacted by the ban pro-bono for the next 90 days.

Finally, this shows how truly powerful PR is in every industry. Lack of good PR and communication about an off hand comment lead to #deleteUber to be trending all over the internet; now the company is trying to use better PR practices to repair their relationships and image through letters from the CEO and efforts on social media.

Public Relations really cannot be put on the back burner of any company, for if it is PR disasters such as this one can tarnish a company’s image and ruin their relationships with consumers beyond repair.


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