Uber Public Relations: A Global Effort Facing Local Issues
Uber is an American company that has an innovative idea of franchising their concept to people who live in various locations willing to provide pick-up and ride service to others. The idea has made the company big news and big money. It has also been controversial in many of the markets it serves or is attempting to serve.
Since their efforts compete with taxi and limo services in most areas, the established professionals do not take kindly to business being taken from them. They also are not happy that while they are highly regulated and pay large fees for licensing, Uber drivers step in and do not need to meet any of those requirements. For that reason, and for some problems that have been reported on safety issues and inappropriate behavior of franchise drivers, the company has been banned from operating in several locations.
When Uber enters a new market location, they face the need to meet local regulations and present what they can bring to the table in a way that allows them access. So PR work is vital to the company, but it is also necessary to find PR specialists that know the issues for Uber as well as the local situations. Because Uber has come into markets all around the world, this is probably one of the biggest issues they face now and moving forward.
Currently, Uber is struggling to be accepted in Europe. As an example, France says that Uber’s business is illegal according to their industry laws passed in 2014. But Uber says operation in France is legal according to the rule of law. In either case, Uber continues to present their case while they do business there.
Only a few weeks ago, Taxi drivers in Paris disrupted traffic and slowed access to airports and train stations in protest to the possibility of Uber being allowed to continue. Taxi drivers are concerned about their future livelihood. There are approximately 50,000 taxi drivers in France, and about 1,000 of them seem to be actively protesting Uber’s efforts. Some of those who are doing so are not afraid to show a bit of violence in the process according to recent reports.
UberPOP is the European leg of the company and operates in more than a dozen cities in Europe. They are also in the process of transitioning their PR efforts from outside firms to more being done in-company. However, much of the efforts worldwide are still being done by PR firms under contract with Uber. One thing seems to be obvious: the PR firms and in-house PR staff have their work cut out for them as they negotiate such a shift in transportation thinking.