Let’s suspend all the arguments about whose fault this is, (although the facts prove it is not the fault of the Mayor) and look at the situation black cab drivers are in from a purely PR point of view. Black cabs are a class item, like Rolex watches, for the first time facing tough challenges, from the EU, and from other companies. Any PR agency would advise drivers to radically alter their attitude on twitter and the social media. Even if Uber and other mini cabs don’t kill off the trade, some black cab drivers on twitter seem hell bent on doing it on their own. Perception is so important, but cab drivers aren’t helping themselves.
a) Don’t give business to your competitors. Many cab drivers are at the moment proclaining on twitter “Boris is killing the black cab trade!” “The black cab trade is finished!” “We will be dead in two years!” “We can’t compete! We are finished!” The result of such statements, however sympathetic other tweeters may be, is to think “Gosh! I better get that app. with Uber!” Remarks that even hint that the black cab trade is dying merely hand business to your competitors, because who has faith in a dying industry?
b) Don’t be negative or look for someone to blame. Loudly saying on twitter it is all Boris Johnson’s fault just makes black cab drivers look like victims. It is not the Mayor’s fault that he has to comply with EU regulations. Only the High Court can ban Uber. The London Assembly has produced a cross party initiative to help. The Mayor is bringing in new regulations regarding drivers who don’t speak English. Looking for a scapegoat and endlessly complaining only hurts the industry, nobody else. If some members of the London Assembly try to gee you up, it is the Mayor’s fault – well they would, wouldn’t they.
c) Modernise and fast! A gentle suggestion from the Mayor that the trade should modernise is met with outright anger, or furious tweets, “I have Halo, do you know anything about the cab trade” and “He is talking rubbish as usual. ” Other drivers tell me not very many drivers have Halo, and Halo isn’t much good anyway, because they are representing a minicab company now. The black cab trade needs their own app. ASAP.
d) Never get abusive to people who don’t agree with you. Some drivers are so unpleasant and personally abusive, I wouldn’t get in their cabs if they paid me! Fortunately, this is the minority, but this sort of attitude is noticeable on twitter, and once again, hands business to the opposition.
e) Emphasise the benefits of black cabs! Twitter is free, use it to explain why black cabs are so much better.
If an industry dies, it is never the fault of only one person, and sometimes the situation can be saved by a positive attitude. I have been giving out the link for the webcam of the last Mayor’s Question Time in which Boris Johnson talks a lot of sense. (One tweeter snapped at me I was “patronising him.” I was only trying to help). For everyone who would like to listen to the Mayor, the webcam is here.