Commercial space travel seems a bit further off in the future following the crash of the Virgin Galactic “SpaceShipTwo” a few weeks ago. The test flight in the Mojave Desert crashed on Halloween, killing the pilot and injuring the other passenger.
Virgin Group founder and PR pro Sir Richard Branson’s swift and powerful actions in the wake of the crash provide a shining example of ownership and responsiveness in the face of a crisis. Branson held a press conference the day after the crash, provided multiple interviews in multiple formats, and released several blog posts in response to the incident.
At the press conference, Branson acknowledged, “we feel short” and vowed to correct mistakes.
“We’re going to learn from what went wrong,” Branson said in his interviews.
Not shying away from the crisis, he appeared on TODAY the following Monday, calling the tragedy a “horrible setback” and stressing that the company would continue to pursue its mission in honor of the fallen pilot. Branson also said he believes the roughly 700 individuals already signed up for the $250,000 trip to space with Virgin Galactic will not be deterred.
Branson is well known as an innovative entrepreneur, but also as a highly effective marketer and communicator. As we have stated before on the RBG blog , he also possess a unique ability to navigate obstacles, and sometimes even turn them into opportunities.
Often, the most efficient way to work through a crisis is not to bury your head in the sand and hope it will go away, but to strategically face it head on and pivot the conversation to that path ahead. This is precisely what Richard Branson did.
We’ll have to wait and see if Virgin Galactic will actually soar through space, but we can be sure that Branson seems to know how to navigate challenges and elevate his businesses to new heights.