EasyJet – a six part lesson in social media and how to contain bad news

Photo by Christopher Doyle

Photo by Christopher Doyle

So here’s the situation: it’s Christmas Eve, and you know that you are going to cancel all your flights that day to and from a particular location. Cue hundreds of unhappy passengers. As you as an airline don’t fly anywhere on Christmas Day, these passengers have to spend Christmas in an airport hotel and travel on the 26th – not the Christmas present anyone wanted.

EasyJet, a top European budget airline, had just this problem when it cancelled all flights to and from Madeira, the Portuguese island, this Christmas Eve, disappointing hundreds of hopeful passengers – families escaping for a break in search of the sun, Portuguese families going home for the festive break. Everyone had their own personal story to tell.

All corporate clients have things go wrong. So how did EasyJet cope?

It put in place a well oiled communications control process, made one bad public relations mistake, and then got the next bit right – sort of… Continue reading

A New Year’s Resolution: Promise not to promise anymore

Photo by Carmello Fernando

Photo by Carmello Fernando

New Year is, traditionally, a time when we commit to diets, teetotalism, fitness regimes or generally being more laudable people in a promise – to ourselves more than anyone else – to be ‘better’ somehow. And, traditionally, we tend to break those promises after (and this is, admittedly, a wild approximation) a month. But while a cheeky glass of Chenin or going a fortnight without Zumba may be a New Year’s promise broken they are not, generally speaking, fatal – either literally or metaphorically.

But rash promises made to others – particularly to the media – really can be fatal to one’s reputation, especially when they are unambiguous, cast-iron pledges. Here are some examples of those who learnt the hard way: Continue reading

Hacked off with Hugh Grant? Well Jon Stewart is!

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant speaking a at Hacked Off Event
Credit: The Liberal Democrat Party

So Jon Stewart, many in the media thank you for daring to say to Hugh Grant what a lot of the UK media has wanted to say for sometime – that he is “a big pain in the ass”! But Hugh Grant has been waging his own war against the media – so he’s had some delicate handling by the hacks.
Continue reading

When is a joke no longer a joke? When Kate Middleton and human tragedy is involved

Kate M MoD

The Duchess of Cambridge
Credit the MoD

We all know the story, but now it has happened we can stand back and look at the PR lessons. First, the story: on December 5th, two happy go lucky DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian at the hitherto unknown Sydney-based radio station 2Day FM, had their scoop of a lifetime – they managed to dupe an unsuspecting nurse in a hospital to put them through the ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was undergoing treatment for severe morning sickness in the early stages of her pregnancy. She is the future Queen Consort of England – unless there’s a Republican coup – and her progeny will be the future King or Queen of England depending on sex. Continue reading

Free Press Standards – could the UK be the first country in the free world to legislate to regulate? Or was a full scale inquiry into the UK press a waste of time?

photo: Devices: MaxxStudio/Shutterstock http://shutr.bz/11hssx3 // Newspapers: Bobbie Johnson CC http://bit.ly/11hsBAE

Photo: Devices: MaxxStudio/Shutterstock http://shutr.bz/11hssx3

A report by Lord Justice Leveson recommended how to keep the practices of the UK press in check for the future – only he forgot the part about the future

This week, the UK Prime Minister, editors of national newspapers and campaigners alike have been pouring energies into answering a call outlined in a new report for a radical reform of UK media regulation. Continue reading

Google, Amazon and Starbucks in the tax limelight

Photo by James Callan

Photo by James Callan

Starbucks buckles to media pressure – but doesn’t get its PR quite right

Last month, three of the biggest success stories in international business – senior executives from Google, Amazon and Starbucks – were dragged before the UK’s Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (more-or-less the equivalent of the House Budget Committee). All three companies had been accused of using Byzantine mechanisms to avoid paying corporation tax in Britain. Though legal this has become increasingly difficult to manage from a PR perspective. Continue reading

How to turn a piece of bad timing into a public relations disaster

Nigel FaragePhoto by European Parliament

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage
Photo by European Parliament

It shouldn’t have been difficult to spot. Every hot button was pressed – racism, welfare, politics, the State and immigration – so surely they should have proceeded with care?

Last week in the UK, a powerful human interest story became entangled with a political event in a PR disaster which exemplified some fundamental truths on message management. Until then, it had been a relatively un-newsworthy parliamentary election in Rotherham, northern England, where the UK Labour Party had held the seat in every election since 1933. So far, so boring. Continue reading

Are apologies overworked in PR? IKEA versus Apple

IKEA, founded in 1943, and one of the most successful international retailing companies, is undergoing a practical lesson in crisis management after admitting last week that political prisoners in the former East Germany laboured under cruel conditions to produce its furniture.

In May, a documentary made in Sweden – the home country of IKEA – made claims that the company had used the forced labour of political prisoners suppressed by the former head of the German Democratic Republic Honecker and his ubiquitous Stasi police to make its furniture. Continue reading