Ben DiPietro, The Wall Street Journal’s Risk & Compliance Journal, December 15, 2014

This week’s crisis assignment is nuts—literally. We asked our experts to look into how Korean Air Lines Co. handled the incident in which Cho Hyun-ah, a company executive vice president—and daughter of the airline’s chairman—ordered a plane that was set to take off back to the terminal after one of the flight attendants failed to follow the airline’s protocol for serving macadamia nuts.

The incident, which required the plane to return to the terminal and delayed takeoff by 20 minutes, led to extensive criticism of the airline, the resignation of the woman and an apology by the airline’s chairman, Cho Yang-ho, who said the incident reflected on his failures as a father. It also led to a sharp increase in sales of macadamia nuts.

Davia Temin, president and chief executive, Temin and Co.: “Mixed messaging rarely works when issuing an institutional apology. And since, these days, perception usually trumps reality, it really doesn’t matter much whether the mistake made was nuanced–the apology can not be. To assuage rampant public outrage on social media, and this new ‘mean age’ we are all living in, a public apology must be clear, seemingly heartfelt, and unequivocal. That is exactly what Korean Airlines did not do.” […read more]