Showing posts with label JetBlue. Show all posts
Showing posts with label JetBlue. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 20

Flying Cargo Class: The Airline Industry

Zagat Survey today announced the results of the 2007 Zagat Global Airlines Survey. Singapore Airlines took top honors as the best international economy class and Midwest Airlines pulled the No. 1 spot for domestic economy class again. Midwest Airlines has taken top honors in the past eight Zagat surveys; Virgin America and JetBlue Airways followed as No. 2 and 3.

While social media proponents might consider crowing that the number one and number two domestic Web sites both support well-planned blogs, the real communication lesson for the airlines comes from Zagat participant comments that pinpoint the state of the industry. Here are a few favorites:

“I’d rather be a package on FedEx.”

“The legroom is great if you’re a yard gnome.”

“Their planes make Larry King look young.”

“I thought the Geneva Convention prevented this kind of thing.”

“Only good thing about first class these days is that you get to leave the plane first.”


JetBlue continues to score big with its fans despite the “nightmare delays” last winter. But all is not bliss as public relations professionals like to claim. JetBlue continues to balance leather seats, satellite TV, and happy crews, and decent snacks against rising prices, limited routes, and points that expire.

Still, third is a long way from the bottom, an honor that belongs to U.S. Airways, which came in last among domestic airlines. (And Philadelphia International came in fourth from the bottom among airports.) Hmmm … I wonder why.

The survey covered 7,498 frequent fliers who rated 84 airlines and 46 major airports. Each airline was separately rated on its premium and economy service for both domestic and international flights. The typical survey participant took 19.7 flights in the past year aggregating 147,000 trips. For complete results from domestic and international carriers, visit Zagat.


Sunday, July 1

Covering Hot Topics: Second Quarter 2007

Every quarter, we publish a recap of our five most popular communication-related posts, based on the frequency and the immediacy of hits after they were posted. While we base this on individual posts, some are related to larger case studies.

Jericho Fans Make Television History

When CBS executives cancelled Jericho over Nielsen ratings, fans of this post- nuclear terrorist attack/small town survival drama went nuts, literally. Using the Internet and social media as their point of organization, they launched the largest cancellation protest in history: sending 40,000 pounds of nuts (from just one store); rallied almost 120,000 petition signers; cancelled CBS related-cable subscriptions; boycotted network premieres; sold network stock; sent in countless letters, postcards, and e-mails; captured media attention in every major newspaper and tabloid; and flooded the network with phone calls. Within a few weeks, CBS reversed its decision in record time, heading off what was quickly becoming an exercise in crisis communication. Of all the posts, pointing out the error in CBS’ marketing of Jericho took top honors with over 10,000 hits.

Link: Jericho

Wal-Mart Strikes Back Against Julie Roehm

If networks are looking for a new made-for-television docudrama, the ongoing Julie Roehm story continues to turn heads (and maybe stomachs). Filled with twists, turns, sex, back room deals, character defamation, lawsuits, countersuits, media bias, allegories, and more spin than the planet Jupiter (which rotates once every 10 hours), this story demonstrates the pitfalls of second-tier executives becoming public figures and the companies that keep them. In the end, if she has any credibility left, Roehm’s personal brand will always be linked to the short-lived, um, alleged Wal-Mart funded affair with a subordinate, her master-class ability to spin herself into another lawsuit and, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, being more indestructible than a cockroach.

Links: Julie Roehm, Wal-Mart

Digital Media Will Change Everything

While some might say it was the very loose Jericho link, we like to think it is related to the increasing interest in the future of digital media, specifically how old media is becoming new media. When we gave some attention to how News Corporation and NBC Universal are speeding ahead with the addition of FUEL TV, Oxygen, SPEED, Sundance Channel, and TV Guide as content partners committed to bringing programming to Web video consumers, people wanted to know what it might mean. To us, it means that one day very soon, broadcast news and entertainment will be forever fused with the Internet, people will access it all via versatile technologies like the iPhone, independents will have the potential to break into the big leagues overnight, and businesses will fully develop what we sometimes call income marketing.

Links: Digital Media, NBC Universal, FOX

Paris Hilton Splits Public Interest

We don’t know about you, but Mika Brzezinski of MNSBC perfectly captured the public’s sentiment over Paris Hilton. In a YouTube clip, Brzezinski refuses to lead the news with Hilton, but then goes on and on about how she refuses to cover it, making her refusal to cover Hilton carry on probably three times longer than if she would have just read the script. Love her, hate her, love to hate her, or hate to love her, we’re not buying that you’re not interested because if we post about her, we always see spikes even though we generally only cover communication side items like blaming publicists, marketing humor, and overly long media statements from jail. Hmmm… maybe that’s why Hilton took second against Roehm in terms of most read public figure.

Link: Paris Hilton

The Office Parodies A Public Relations Nightmare

Although some follow-up stories to JetBlue and Jobster came close, NBC Universal's 2006 Emmy Award-winning show, The Office, proved fictional crisis communication is sometimes more fun than real life. For our part, we wrote up how The Office episode "Product Recall” mirrors how executives sometimes allow a crisis to run away from them by applying “tried and true” communication strategies. In the show, Michael Scott (Steve Carell), regional manager of Dunder-Mifflin, applies the practice of “always running to the crisis and never away from it” after a disgruntled employee at the paper mill put an obscene watermark on one of their most popular paper products. The operative word in this case is “always.” Crisis communication rules are only guidelines, silly.

Link: The Office

It’s very promising to see non-bad news posts starting to give bad news posts a run for their money. We're still hoping good news and educational posts might one day dominate the top five (admittedly doubtful). For example, when it comes to social media, we’d love to see more attention given to our underpinning concept that strategic communication is best suited to drive social media despite the fact that most companies seems to be trying to do it the other way around.

Anyway, while those were the top five posts (and related case studies) for the second quarter, several others came close (and almost all of them beat out last quarter). Runners up (no order): Fans of the The Black Donnellys lobby for HBO to save the canceled NBC show; PR bloggers made a non-issue into an issue over Nikon; JetBlue proved you really can overapologize in a crisis; Jason Goldberg of Jobster goes a whole week or so before behaving badly again; and our sum-up of Harris Interactive mobile advertising research despite my initial skepticism, mostly fueled by a not-so-great Webinar release.

So there you have it, except for one very, very important ingredient: thank you all for dropping by, adding comments, promoting several stories, and continuing to bring communication issues to our attention so we may offer up our sometimes serious, sometimes silly take on them. Whether you agree or disagree, all of it lends well to the discussion and I appreciate those who remember to target the topic and not each other in providing input.


Monday, May 21

Landing Loudly: David Neeleman

Ever since David Neeleman stepped down as CEO of JetBlue "to focus on more long-term strategic initiatives for JetBlue as Chairman of the Board," his famous blog, called a flight log, has stood silent.

The last post penned by Neeleman gives an outstanding welcome to Dave Barger as CEO, but leaves the people who enjoyed Neeleman's online presence one question unanswered: Will Neeleman's flight blog remain the last word of an airline founder who saw the value of social media or will Barger now brave the relatively untested waters of CEO blogging?

The question isn't so much for JetBlue as it is for any corporation that has taken the plunge. As more executives take to blogging or achieve near celebrity status as very visible spokespeople for their companies, it becomes crystal clear that very few have thought about a social media contingency plan.

What happens when visible voices become embroiled in controversy or step aside as Neeleman did? One would think the Robert Scoble story would have better prepared companies for such eventualities. Microsoft fared pretty well with a transition in 2006, but it seems like not all companies will.

While ADWEEK's May 21 article doesn't provide the answers, it does recognize a change in the perception of company branding with a renewed marriage between marketing and customer service.

"Blogs, online video, e-mail and mobile phones—not to mention company and brand ratings on sites like Amazon and Yahoo—give the average consumer an immediate, interactive soapbox on which to share how Company X let them down," writes Joan Voight. "In today's consumer culture, a humorous video on YouTube featuring a cable repairman sleeping on the job gets far more attention than the well-established American Customer Satisfaction Index from the University of Michigan—an index that due to its business press-oriented nature can't compete with the Web."

The article also mentions JetBlue Valentine's Day crisis and its efforts to employ a largely unproven social media tactic as part of its crisis communication strategy. In our case study, we noted that while the effort was to be commended, JetBlue only did everything almost right. Unfortunately for Neeleman, if you subscribe to ADWEEK's assessment that it was the "episode, dissected on blogs and elsewhere, even brought down the airline's high-flying founder and CEO David Neeleman," almost was not enough to win over JetBlue stakeholders, who seemed to think the easiest way to end the over-apologizing was to shuffle their spokesman off the stage (for awhile anyway).

Left behind is a flight log (blog) that will require some pretty big shoes to fill unless Neeleman re-emerges as the very verbal and likeable founder of the airline.

Indeed. The communication game has changed and executives are taking more heat over the attention they receive as their personal brands and actions sometimes eclipse the company they work for. As a result, some now have bigger targets on their backs as sacrificial lambs when things go wrong.

Some are shuffled around or let go for a single company slip like Neeleman or Jim Samples. Others are dismissed for what the Toronto Star, a few graphs down, calls terminal uniqueness (n. Psychological condition afflicting top executives suffused with a sense of omnipotence, until their bad behavior bites them in the behind) like Chris Albrecht, Julie Roehm, and Todd Thomson.

Sure, something is being done. You cannot pick up a communication-related publication today without reading about social media. However, far too many communicators are not sure what to do with all this information because they thought the opening rounds were nothing but a fad.

Unfortunately for their employers, this means mistakes—including leaving well-read blogs quiet because no one ever short listed possible replacements (or signed several executive bloggers/spokespeople to begin with)—will continue to be made until communicators realize that the fast-paced trend to become more customer-centric instead of product-centric means more social media attention on company executives, whether you ask for it or not. (Something CBS is discovering right now.)

So, unless social media is carefully employed as part of your company's overall strategy, sooner or later, you will be left with the wrong message, or perhaps, no message at all, where customers expect to find it. Whether "it" means a flight log or something else entirely. JetBlue. Case study closed.


Monday, April 9

Pushing Apologies: JetBlue Airways

On March 23, JetBlue Airways accepted delivery of its 100th Airbus A320 aircraft, complete with a one-of-a-kind 100-themed blue livery, giving the airline the world's largest fleet of A320 aircraft.

But what could have been a press conference about the growth and success of a low-cost, low-fare, value-oriented business model turns into more of the same: why talk about leg room when you can talk about being sorry?

It wasn't just at the JetBlue JFK hangar, decked out with balloons for about 200 JetBlue crew members. And it wasn't only in the March 20 follow-up YouTube video. It's anywhere and everywhere David Neeleman, founder and CEO of JetBlue Airways, happens to be or has anything to say.

It's in the Sun-Sentinel. It's in the Chicago Tribune. It's in the Baltimore Sun. JetBlue is sorry. Neeleman is sorry. All the employees are sorry.

And, when you get right down to it, this has gone on so long — apologizing for winter storms on Valentine's Day that left passengers stranded on airplanes — I'm even sorry, despite having never tried a flight on JetBlue. I'm sorry they didn't read my posts on Feb. 23 and Feb. 22 that both pointed to the same problem JetBlue would face if it did not stop saying "sorry."

It is estimated JetBlue has spent as much as $30 million in overtime, added crew costs, and free flights. Meanwhile, shares of JetBlue are down 18 percent this year. Its customer-first image, despite launching a "Passenger Bill of Rights" immediately following the debacle, remains in the toilet as exemplified by its name being crossed out on the cover of BusinessWeek in a story on companies with the best customer service. And why is this?

Well, when your most powerful and memorable message is entrenched in what some might call your worst mistake for too long, nearly two months and counting, it will become your only message. And in this case, it worked. Nevermind all the good stuff about JetBlue. The only thing that people think about now is that it had problems. And ironically, probably half of the people who know there were problems don't even remember what the cause of those problems were.

All they know, thanks to improper, overbearing, and too much negative messaging, is that JetBlue did something very, very bad and JetBlue is very, very sorry. So sorry in fact, that its endless apologies overwhelm all other messages.

For everything it did right as outlined by Richard Levick, president of Levick Strategic Communications, JetBlue is doing a lot of things wrong. Sure, it could lobby for new industry standards and get out in front of other airlines with sensitivity training designed to make employees think and feel like passengers as Levick suggests (smart stuff), but first and foremost, it needs to shift from negative messaging — over-apologizing — and get back to what makes it, as an airline, different from anyone else.

JetBlue needs to turn off the sob stories related to what Levick calls the "Valentine's Day massacre of passenger rights" and move off the tarmac and up into the clouds.

Unfortunately, it has been apologizing for so long, the transition will take that much longer. You see, from a more simplistic view of the world, it works something like this: negative messages are 8 times more powerful than positive messages. So if it takes 80 impressions to make a positive message stick, we might conclude it takes 640 impressions to erase a negative message. Neeleman and JetBlue have so masterfully elevated the awareness of one problem that the number of positive messages they need to get beyond Valentine's Day might not fit on a calculator. But, even before they can do that, they have to stop apologizing before it's too late.

You see, in addition to their own "problem-centered" messaging are scores of customers since Feb. 14 who blog about every little bad thing as evidence that no sweeping changes are being made. Usually, it doesn't matter whether one piece of luggage is lost for awhile or that a single flight has a delay (those things happen), but now these things mean everything to JetBlue.

The perception is that it had customer service problems, made promises to fix those problems, and cannot deliver on those promises, probably because those promises (in perception, not reality) were too big for anyone to deliver on in the first place. And the only reason this perception exists is because JetBlue made it so.

Look, I'm all for crisis communication as I've outlined and Levick has outlined, but there is also some common sense and practicality that is missing in this case study. It's something I learned as an intern (later, a communication consultant) at Sierra Pacific Resources.

As an intern, my first task was to write a letter of introduction to the communications department. I was so excited that I fired it off and placed it neatly on everyone's desk (no IMs in those days, hey). The next day, I was called into my mentor's office so he could point out two typos. Needless to say, I was mortified and immediately suggested I apologize with a second letter.

"Here's the thing," he said. "Ninety five percent of the department didn't see any errors because they read right past them, but they will all see them if you apologize. So the best thing you can do for the 5 percent, who think I may have made a mistake in picking you as an intern, is to causally address your mistake to them if they bring it up. More importantly, you need to make your first assignment for the company really shine."

Sound advice. No one ever mentioned those typos. And typos were not something they ever saw again, which is partly why I easily transitioned from intern to communication consultant.

Now, I am not suggesting that JetBlue did anything wrong by apologizing in the first place. That was smart. It was crisis communication on social media steroids and it worked.

What I am suggesting is that there is no possible way that JetBlue will ever overcome this crisis if they keep talking about it. As I have said before ... most people take long looks at car accidents (I'm not one of them), but a car accident can only hold their interest for so long.

However, if you force them to look at your car accident, in painstaking detail, long after they are interested in something else, then they'll become disenfranchised and tune out all your other messages. Or worse, they'll become disgusted or even angry at you and your company.


Thursday, April 5

Validating Critics: Jeff Hunter

While this post touches once again, ho hum, on Jason Goldberg, CEO of Jobster, it is not about Jason Goldberg. If you want another post on him today, visit Workfarce. It's not a great post, but it is an interesting continuation on communication myths that seem to creep in as well as a fine example of the the love-hate relationship some fans seem to have from the nosebleed section.

Personally, I'm more interested by a comment left by Jeff Hunter on Cheezhead, which originally sparked the revival of the Goldberg discussions. Hunter quoted President Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

Now, Roosevelt was an amazingly smart and astonishingly multifaceted man. He is one of my favorite leaders in American history and you can read more about him at Theodore Roosevelt Association. His quote, above, made a lot of sense within the context of what he was talking about.

However, and I mean no disrespect to Hunter, I don't think it applies to social media. Sure, it's the cornerstone of the argument that "only Jason Golberg knows what's happening at Jobster" so you have no right to write about him even though he wants to be written about, unless you're promoting his message, whatever that might be.

Perhaps because I've worked as a paid journalist/critic (about 10 years total experience or so) — dining reviews, show reviews, tourism reviews, company reviews, political reviews — it's easier for me to see the distinction between armchair quarterbacking, customer feedback, journalistic feedback, and what occurs within the context of social media.

Not always, but more often than not, the purveyors of blogs are more than merely critics. On the contrary, they are the very people whose faces are marred by the same dust and sweat and blood that mars the people they write about. And I, for one, do not see criticisms as criticisms as much as I see them as conversational discussions between industry leaders to guide the direction of the industry and ensure it is not shaped by someone who might very well be wrong.

This was one of reasons I began changing the format of my blog in mid-August last year. I saw people shaping the direction of communication through social media (and I am not saying they are all wrong), but they didn't know much about strategic communication. Many of them were too busy being "agents of change," willing to blow up everything in favor of, well, nothing … provided they can put their name on it.

While the thought is well intended, I don't agree with the idea that criticisms jeopardize any industry, provided that those criticisms are valid or at least lead to some other validity with open, honest communication (short of malicious intent).

Further, I don't believe it needs to be the obligation of industry leaders to lift every other industry leader up in the face of adversity for the betterment of the industry. In fact, I have been a board member of too many non-profit professional organizations where out of the well-intended notion that "we all need to support each other and every idea all the time" came erroneous actions that resulted in the death or near-death of an organization or program.

Ergo, criticisms are only invalid when the discussion of an idea gives way to popularity contests between people and not their ideas or undue polarization of an issue where people try to convince everyone that it is either all or nothing, black or white.

Recently, Jim Durbin rightfully took me to task when he wrote that I stretched too much in my attempt to take "a major issue issue (the January layoffs and Goldberg's December posts), and conflating them with other issues that are not related and of the same magnitude." While the stretch was intentional, though not obvious enough as I conceded, kudos for Durbin.

That is the way it should be. In fact, had it not been for his post, I may have never dug a little deeper and visited Blogpulse. If you trend "Jason Goldberg," you'll see my stretch wasn't all that far off. The largest spikes tend to be the result of negative news and commentary, including one some might call an insignificant disagreement between two bloggers.

In the realm of social media, it seems that exchange has as much impact as any. Perhaps even more telling is this: on the same day the "Knowing When To Post" went up, Richard S. Levick, president and CEO of Levick Strategic Communications, posted a comment on my February "Discussing JetBlue" post, which I responded to. Those two comments on JetBlue beat out Jobster 5-to-1. (Heads up: I'll revisit JetBlue on Monday.)

What does this mean? Well, that has never happened before. So could it be that interest in Jobster has waned? Maybe. At minimum, when bad rumor spikes begin to outweigh good news spikes, it's time to rethink your strategy. Sure, people gawk at car accidents, but car accidents will only hold their interest for so long.

Anyway, thank goodness for people like Durbin who take the time to ask questions and offer comments. If people like him stopped doing it, then entire companies, organizations, industries, and countries could be led in the wrong direction. But then again, what do I know?

I only know that not so long ago, a public relations professional engaged me in an e-mail exchange that insisted my critique on his non-recruiting client's release was unfair and unprofessional. Then, he basically asked me to shut up. Who am I to argue? If he wants to insist that silence is golden, then so be it. I won't write about his client again, which is a shame, because I had some good things to say.

So I wonder what would have been worse: writing up his second public relations debacle or not writing anything at all...

Critics. We don't always like them, but maybe we need them.


Friday, February 23

Discussing JetBlue: Levick

Richard S. Levick is the president and CEO of Levick Strategic Communications, which was named Crisis Agency of the Year in 2005 by The Holmes Report. The report provides in-depth news analysis and features on trends and issues in the public relations business.

Levick's firm, which has offices in New York, Washington D.C. and London, directs high-profile communications, including: the Catholic Church scandals, the spinach e-coli crisis, large legal and regulatory actions globally, and a number of the most significant matters arising out of the Middle East and Latin America.

Levick has been making the rounds in the media, discussing JetBlue and giving it high marks in handling its crisis. Recently, in an interview with he said "JetBlue has run to the crisis, taking responsibility not just for itself but for the entire industry."

Specifically, Levick outlined what he calls five key tenets of sound crisis management:

• Run to it. Avoid "duck and cover."
• All companies will have a crisis. Be prepared.
• Know your crisis team. Now.
• Make a sacrifice. Companies often want to win it all.
• Avoid saying "no comment." A crisis abhors a vacuum.

"The critical role is to run to the crisis," he told ConsumerAffairs. "People don't want to sue people they like and trust. What happens so often is that CEOs lawyer-up and say nothing."

On any given day of the week, I would agree with Levick. It's sound advice, pure and simple, except something with JetBlue has not sat well with me. In between discussing the finer points of introducing an abbreviated name in a new release to sharing some real life crisis communication situations I've worked on to about a dozen student public relations professionals last night, I think I decided what it might be. There are some fine details missed by JetBlue, and American Airlines might have noticed.

Anyone can write up some crisis communication points, but the devil in the details is how those points are interpreted and applied to a unique crisis communication situation. For example, if you overlay Moving Beyond Bad News, which we presented a few days ago, you might come up with the notion that JetBlue did everything right too. Or not.

Here are a few key points from that list that seem to be making a difference:

Have you satisfied the public interest? If you want to move beyond bad news, you have to commit to regularly reporting additional information until no public interest remains. In JetBlue's case, it may be oversatisfying public interest. It could very well be that it has apologized so much that the effectiveness of the apology is wearing thin.

Have you included positive steps being taken to address the situation? Naturally, this is being addressed by JetBlue's Customer Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, one might wonder if it forever branded the Customer Bill of Rights to the original crisis. Perhaps it would have been better to wait a few weeks, after resolving the remedy specific to the incident.

Did you offer restitution? As much as JetBlue has been apologizing, it seems to me it has buried the fact that it did indeed offer restitution. So much so, some people don't know that the airline's future plan includes giving passengers aboard departing planes delayed for three to four hours a $100 voucher if the voucher would be equal to the amount of their round-trip ticket. Given the amount of money spent on paid advertising apologies by the company, one might also wonder if that money would have been better spent with the passengers aboard the planes.

Perhaps it's these small weaknesses in the plan that reinforced American Airlines decision to beef up service at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, a move that will put additional pressure on Delta Air Lines and JetBlue. American Airlines has said that its plans are unrelated to JetBlue, and the Newsday article includes that JetBlue folks believe the plan will not have any impact.

For public relations practitioners, I hope this also provides some conversation in understanding that formulas, bulleted action plans, are great for guidance, but are never absolute. Every crisis communication situation is different, and requires a modified course of action.

Worse, if everyone over apologized all the time about things that were at least partly out of their control, sooner or later, the public won't believe any of them, no matter how sincere or appropriate the message and its meaning. That said, please don't allow me to convince anyone that JetBlue is doing something wrong. Contrary to that, they are doing more right than most.


Thursday, February 22

Jumping The Shark: JetBlue

JetBlue Airways has always been about innovating a new airline, one that offers value, service and style. It does things differently, from leather seats with 36 inches of leg room and free DIRECTV to name brand snacks and sommelier chosen wines. So maybe it's no surprise that the airline is deploying a slightly different brand of crisis communication, which includes appealing its apology to the court of social media and anyone who will listen.

At a glance, the crisis communication strategy that began after an ice storm caused the airline to cancel more than 250 of 505 daily flights and significantly delayed 10 flights on the tarmac with customers waiting on board for hours, seems pretty spot on. The airline was relatively quick (some say too slow) to acknowledge, apologize, explain, learn from, satisfy public interest, and offer restitution, and has taken all of this to the media, social media, company blog (flight log), and even YouTube.

A few people might notice I left empathy off the list, but not because COO David Neeleman missed the mark. On the contrary, Neeleman is one of the most credible corporate spokespeople I've seen appear during a crisis in some time. He obviously knows that sometimes the messenger is the message. In a net assessment of comments all over the place, it seems people want to believe him because it's nearly impossible to see anything but sincerity in the man. Personally, I believe him.

I'm not alone. Despite cutting earnings guidance for the quarter, traders on Wednesday sent JetBlue shares up about 2.2 percent to close at $12.19 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Several analysts has even said JetBlue's numerous apologies may help stave off long-term pain for investors.

"We believe that JetBlue's PR efforts since the last weekend have been rather successful at expressing humility and embarrassment about the problems," wrote Morgan Stanley analyst William J. Greene in a note to clients, according to The Associated Press. "This mea culpa has likely gone a long way to mitigate customer frustrations."

Although some less trusting public relations practitioners are considering the "spin" factor, I remain unconvinced that JetBlue is simply spinning. However, I can agree that it may be jumping the shark. I'm not saying it is; I'm only recognizing the potential.

Can you apologize too much? Can you produce too many course corrections in the aftermath of a crisis? Can you make a crisis bigger than it needs to be, even with the best intentions? Can you reach out to too many people in an attempt to offset negative impressions, involving those who probably didn't need to be involved (how many YouTube enthusiasts fly JetBlue or how many JetBlue customers visit YouTube)?

I'm not saying what it has done is wrong or right as only time will tell, but maybe, just maybe, it has accepted too much responsibility, coming up just short of apologizing for an ice storm, which no one believes it caused. Sure, mistakes were made and it's admirable JetBlue identified several. The Customer Bill of Rights is a good idea, but I wonder if the timing was right. Some people think so, according to the Contra Costa Times.

"JetBlue is taking a mistake and using it not only to address their own mistakes, but to set new standards for the entire industry," Richard Levick, chief executive of Levick Strategic Communications Inc. in New York, said in an interview Tuesday. "David Neeleman is running to the crisis. He is everywhere, saying, 'I'm responsible and I'll fix it.'"

Without question, it is always an interesting case study when someone launches a public relations and advertising campaign out of a crisis communication plan, especially when the concept could perhaps head off congress imposing a federal Customer Bill of Rights (I hope the industry doesn't see increased government regulation and demonstrates it can be adept at governing itself).

So at the end of the day, we fall somewhere in the middle. There is little question that JetBlue has demonstrated savvy in crisis communication, but one wonders if the success of the initial effort will eventually lead it to jump the shark.

But even if it does, you have to recognize JetBlue will likely receive continued support from some of the most loyal customers in the industry. While I have never flown JetBlue, I know plenty of people who do. They always rave about their flights and look surprised when I mention I have yet to board that airline, as if one has not flown until they've flown JetBlue.


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