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Lyft's Masterclass in Crisis Recovery

Week of 2/12 - 2/16 2024

What’s the deal: Lyft (Nasdaq: LYFT) announced their Q4 and full-year 2023 earnings on February 13, and what initially looked like an epic mistake turned into a masterclass on how to deal with a #crisis. 

What they got right in their comms: Mistakes happen, but most of the time, they don’t happen in earnings announcements. They are expected to be right - every single time. That didn’t happen at Lyft this week. A misplaced decimal point resulted in a 60% surge in their stock price, and the story of Lyft’s mistake quickly overshadowed an otherwise positive announcement. Fortunately, the comms and executive teams nailed the crisis response. Lyft’s CFO, Erin Brewer, immediately corrected the mistake on the earnings call. Lyft’s CEO David Risher owned the mistake, literally saying, “It’s on me,” in follow-up media interviews. By taking accountability and moving fast to correct the error – two fundamental rules for crisis communications – the story shifted positively to Lyft’s good quarter and how they effectively responded to the situation. Behind the scenes, Lyft’s comms team successfully turned a negative event into a positive one, and that’s always the desired outcome of a crisis response. 

What’s the watch out: Lyft will undertake an exhaustive post-mortem to identify how this problem happened and how to prevent it from happening again. But mistakes will happen despite having the best processes in place and the best people handling high stakes communications events. When they occur, it’s equally important to have a process for quickly and effectively correcting those mistakes to limit the reputation damage and, in some cases, real financial damage. Act fast, be accountable, fix the problem. Lyft embraced that approach, and the results speak for themselves - the stock is still up, and their reputation is intact. 

For these reasons, we recognize Lyft #FortheWin. 


Disclaimer: Lyft is not a Perceptual Advisors LLC client 

About the Author

Brian leads the firm's operations in Northern California and is head of the crisis communications practice.

He has 25 years of experience leading complex communications issues across multiple disciplines, including corporate relations, crisis communications, reputation management, profile raising, thought leadership and public affairs. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, he's developed an extensive track record with B2B and B2C technology companies, in addition to financial services, healthcare, transportation and government. Prior to his new role, Brian founded Big Sky Crisis Communications, where he remains President. 

Previously, Brian was a Director at Brunswick Group, where he led crisis response and corporate reputation projects on behalf of clients such as Infosys, BNSF, Visa, Blue Shield of California and Pandora, in addition to a number of confidential assignments. Before joining Brunswick, Brian was a Senior Vice President at MSL Group, where his clients included Siemens,, GM and Citi. Brian also served as Director of Corporate Communications at Visa and was responsible for guiding communications to key stakeholders during Visa's corporate restructuring, IPO, class action litigation, executive transitions and regulatory events. Brian started his career at Fleishman-Hillard, where he remains in close contact with his peers who now hold leadership positions in multiple high profile companies. 

Brian is a Montana native who graduated from The University of Montana with a B.S. in Business Administration.