I had analysed an earlier Uber PR disaster from a crisis communications point of view. Uber seems to be a treasure trove of disaster PR case studies.
If I were PR in-charge for Uber India, here is what I would have done as soon as the incident came to light:
- APPOINT a spokesperson who will take calls and answer all questions. Right now you have a GM who is scene running away from the media and the perception is that they have something to hide. The void in any official local communication from Uber is letting the media have an open season for spinning stories from "sources". After a ghastly incident like this there is predictably a lot of public anger and if you are seen as avoiding questions, you will be the main target of the anger.
- SUSPEND all operations in India with immediate effect. This give you control over the narrative. Sure there will be a financial hit but you are company that just raised a billion dollar round with a valuation of $40 Billion. You can put out a proactive statement which states, "We are suspending all operations in India till all Character Certificates submitted to the company are verified by local police authorities." Operations can come back up as this verification is done. By not doing this, you have situation where the police are proactively investigating your company across the country and all your drivers are perceived as rapists.
- REACH OUT to the industry, there are several "app based" taxi booking services across the country. They are all in the same boat, today it's Uber, tomorrow it can be one of them. You need to get all of them together to issue a joint statement and set industry standards for recruiting drivers, GPS, etc.
Just my two cents.