Pilot Light

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Posts Tagged ‘Corporate PR

A masterclass of ‘Don’t!’ from BA

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Oh dear

I have not been personally affected but the T5 fiasco really is a case study of what can go wrong with a big, high-profile project on a marcomms and basic business level. I forgot all about the opening, but at Inferno Towers we all could not help but notice the festival of euphemisms that spewed from BA and BAA on the first terrible day – terms like ‘baggage performance issues’ and ‘staff familiarisation problems’ represented the worst part of spin vocab. A kind of marcomms political correctness where language itself is bent and broken to try to take the sting out of a real issue, but just provokes mockery from readers and anger from the affected. Fleet Street veteran Anthony Hilton, now with the Evening Standard, wrote a majesterial piece yesterday listing the failures on every level and it is well worth a read.

In terms of crisis comms the old idea of taking responsibility, providing clear and timely info to the affected and taking visible steps to remedy the problem was rejected in favour of a fog of words and denials that would have shamed a Post-Modern literature seminar.

As Hilton writes, businesses stripped bare of middle managers are left as struggling organisations of low level, virtually unseen executors of a strategy devised by executives in ivory towers who get their information late and manage down by uninformed diktat. Willie Walsh has a rep as a very able executive in his industry, but few leaders can survive open mockery like this game hosted by the Metro. Stay tuned, and look out for some deeply discounted flights in the near future.



Written by pilotlight

02/04/2008 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Business, Media, PR

Tagged with , ,

PR takes flight

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Still coolLast week the Inferno control tower in Hammersmith was alerted to British Airways flight BA038 from Beijing landing short of the runway at Heathrow. Once again the way this was handled was a great example of efficient issues management processes airlines have in place. We imagined that once it was radioed into the BA PR office that one of their planes has gone down, they will have reached into the file marked “Plane landing short of the runway at Heathrow” and will have rolled out a press release, pilot statement and list of roles an responsibilities, most probably written when the Wright Brothers climbed into the skies, changed the date and jettisoned it off to the press.

Now I don’t want to run over how great the PR response was, as many PR blogs will have talked about this and because, in all honesty, it really isn’t that interesting. This scenario will have been planned and rehearsed so many times this will have been as familiar to them as boarding the aircraft. What will be interesting from a PR point of view will be whether there is any response from both BA and Boeing following the investigation.

Boeing is currently locked in a fierce battle with Airbus to try and reclaim their place as the worlds largest aircraft manufacturer. News of their current flagship model, the Boeing 777 (a plane that is only 13 years old this year), mysteriously falling out of the sky at Heathrow won’t go down well with the company’s board or with shareholders. This news also comes in a bad week for Boeing. This week the aircraft manufacturer announced the delay in the delivery of its next model, the 787 Dreamliner, which sent its share price falling nearly 5% and with the news of the crash the share price fell further still with a close to 2% drop.

With BA blaming the planes avionics the PR radar would suggest the investigation will only yield three possible outcomes: pilot error or poor maintenance -, laying the blame at BA’s door – or a manufacturing fault – laying the blame with Boeing. With Boeing trying to allay share holders fears that the company is not on a slippery slope, and BA trying to shake the reputation of poor service and a stock price that has been falling since this time last year, both sides may need to use the PR afterburner in the days following the outcomes from the investigation.

So at the Inferno control tower we will watch with great interest to see whether a PR dogfight will break out and should we see a bogey on the six of either BA or Boeing we will be sure to keep you posted.

So keep your eyes to the skies….. or in the papers at least….

Matt L

Written by pilotlight

21/01/2008 at 1:19 pm

Posted in Media, PR

Tagged with , ,