Startups Like Airbnb Are Getting Better at Addressing Viral Scandals

airbnbAllow us to overgeneralize in writing that tech startup founders can sometimes come across as…what’s the word…aloof. Arrogant. Condescending.

Maybe all that adulatory media coverage goes to their heads. The point, as Valleywag reminds us every day, is that they don’t always respond to challenges in the most effective or sympathetic way.

Yet a PandoDaily post this week argues that companies like Uber and Airbnb are getting better at crisis communications, and we have to agree.

You probably read the viral story about one Airbnb client whose apartment served as the set for a “XXX Freak Fest” (NSFW). Rather than dismiss his complaint as the cost of doing business, the company changed his locks, paid for his hotel stay and wired him thousands of dollars to cover the literal clean-up cost.

The Pando post attributes this newfound attention to crisis management to Airbnb’s hiring of hotel brand Joie de Vivre founder Chip Conley and his “scenario planning” strategy, which better prepares the company to deal with potential black eyes.

Uber—which has long responded to accidents by claiming that it is not in any way culpable for the actions of the drivers that make its service run—changed course after a car killed a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco by announcing increased insurance coverage and offering to cover “damages incurred whenever its app is open.”

Whether this is a case of executives looking to do more good or realizing that such stories threaten to damage their businesses, we think you’ll agree that it’s a positive development.

We’d like to think that these guys have finally realized that the value of PR extends well beyond scoring media mentions and venture capital for their startups.