JetBlue Social Media Falls Short

Steven Slater. Some may consider him an admirable revolutionary; others might think he’s insane. All opinions aside, Slater has become a household name after his dramatic resignation from JetBlue Airlines last week. As the story goes, Slater was a disgruntled flight attendant pushed over the edge by a passenger’s complaints. Fed up, Slater yelled various profanities at the passenger and slid down an inflatable evacuation slide at JFK Airport.

Although JetBlue has been known for its proficiency with social media, they surprisingly did not give any follow-up about the event on their Facebook page and simply wrote “no comment” on their Twitter.

In an article from PRSA’s Public Relations Tactics page, Greg Beaubien tries to decode the lack of response from JetBlue. Beaubien quotes Lawyer Michael J. McSunas, who believes that silence is the best route for both traditional and social media. McSunas stresses that it is important for JetBlue to ensure they are taking the matter seriously, especially in the eyes of the Federal Aviation Authority. McSunas says, “I would advise a client to not necessarily address the matter on Twitter or Facebook,” he said, “but if people are posting about it, respond with something like, ‘Joking aside, this is a serious issue, and our passengers’ safety and security is the number one priority for us.’

JetBlue’s lack of response was called “disappointing” by Conor Brady, the chief creative officer at Organic Inc., who believes that JetBlue should have reached out to the public via social media immediately after the incident. However, a recent poll by the Times discovered that 70 percent of the comments about JetBlue had a positive tone, and many believed they were “doing the right thing” when dealing with recent events.

While it may be difficult to find the right words when dealing with such a bizarre situation, from a PR perspective it is always important to address problems, dispute rumors and provide viable information as quickly as possible. When used strategically, social media can be a great tool for immediately interacting with the public and solving problems in a crisis.

What do you think: was JetBlue’s decision to remain quiet an oversight or strategic?

This blog was written by staff member Michele Reilley.

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