Social Media

The airlines are in trouble – we all know that. Well, maybe not Southwest – who have a great blog and seem to keep their passengers if not insanely happy, at least not screaming in the aisles like most other airlines. Now, United Airlines pilots are using social media tools to air their issues and demand the removal of UAL Chairman, President and CEO Glen Tilton.

They got the right url glentilton.com  and on this site, there is media coverage, reports and the opinions of the pilots themselves. They want Glen Tilton out and they are telling the public why.

From what I can see, no one from United Airlines is responding to this website or acknowledging the issues that the pilots are putting forward, at least not publicly. This is one of the challenges of social media, when something like this happens – what do you do?

I have to be clear that I do not know the entire story from both sides. I only know what I have read and seen in the media and what this website tells me. Which, I think is a perspective that United Airlines might be missing. They may have done a great deal to work things out with the pilots, but I don’t know that, as they aren’t telling us anything.

They may be in talks with the pilots right now. For all I know, the board of directors may be asking for Glen Tilton’s resignation as I write this. That’s the problem — no one from inside the organization is letting us know what is going on.

What if they did? What if they publicly announced that they were going to hold town hall meetings and that they were going to tape them and put them up on their intranet for employees who could not be there in person? What if they reached out to some of the pilots and and set up live panel discussions that were webcast so anyone in the company could watch the senior executive and the pilots have open, respectful and authentic discussions on what can be done to bring the two sides together? None of this would be available to anyone but employees, but what if they told the public that they were doing this … I know I would have a better perception of the people running the company.

From my perspective, United Airlines needs to wake up and smell the coffee (which is one of the few items you are not yet charged for on an airplane). The pilots have gone social media on them, they have opened their problems to the whole world. Shutting their C-Suite doors and pretending it isn’t happening, won’t do them any good.

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The New Rules of Marketing & PR is a book worth reading. It’s by David Meerman Scott…you can check out his blog here.

I was reminded of David’s work in a blog post by my friends at Beaupre. As communicators, we have this great opportunity to speak with people … news releases aren’t read just by the media anymore. On a global level, people are using search engines like Google to find the information they want and need. And – when they are searching online, it’s our job to give them what they need. Visuals – images, video, links to other information and — no more industry jargon. It’s a great time to be in this job — we get to have open, real, authentic conversations with real people. It’s exciting. And I can see how it can be scary, too. Change usually is. Do yourself a favour, buy the New Rules of Marketing & PR and read it … it will open your mind to a whole new way of doing business.

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Angryjournalist.com – I love this site. It lets journalists tell us why they are mad. And they are really angry. For most people in communications, media relations is a part of the gig. It can be incredibly challenging and rewarding and, depending on what day it is, what the other news is and who you get on the other end of the phone — it can be tough. This site helps me understand better what the person on the other end of the phone is dealing with when I call to pitch. Journalists have a tough job — and it’s getting tougher as the world goes online more and more — and more! This site gives us a little peek through the fence. I know it helps me do my job better because I get what they are up against. It isn’t just about the pitch (although that’s important)… there’s more to getting their attention than that.

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I have heard little bits about Hatebook.

So, wanting to know more – I hit the site and joined to see what was going on. I am a big fan of social media. I think there is a lot going on and we, as people, as well as professionals need to know about it. The good and the bad. Hatebook isn’t a part of that. It’s a nasty place, full of anger and venom and, well… hate.

This was my welcome email:

Hello Loser,

Welcome to Hatebook!

Your registration to the Evil Empire was successful.

Feel free to pimp your hate profile.

 

After signing in to this site, I want to go and hug my husband, pet my dogs and have a shower. Sometimes things can be taken too far. In my opinion, this is one of them.

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The BBC news carried a piece last week about how Swiss company Nestle had “deeply offended” the people of Azerbaijan with a recent marketing campaign aimed at selling cereal to the Azeri people.

As part of this campaign, Nestle attached a CD-ROM to cereal boxes that contained information about the countries of the world. The piece in the CD about Azerbaijan said the central-Asian country started a war with its neighbor Armenia over a hotly contested strip of land called Nagorno-Karabakh.

That conflict has killed more than 30,000 people since the 1990s and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Being reminded of this black spot in their history — on a cereal box –outraged the Azeris. Swiss-based Nestle has apologized for the goof and recalled the CDs.

The thing is, I have been all over the Nestle website and there is NOTHING on the site acknowledging this issue. Except for the apology, which I have only heard about and not seen…Nestle is ignoring the blogosphere and it’s global audience. If they had put something on their site and let all of us know that that they have apologized, that they are making this right …it would be a good thing. Then, bloggers could point to the text of the apology and that this is being taken seriously. And while their first priority should acknowledging and apologizing to the people of Azerbaijan, they should also be thinking about consumers worldwide who want to know what they have done to make this right.

Another minor embarrassment for the company with this issue … last year at an International Association of Business Communicators conference in New Orleans, Tengku Marina Badlishah, a Nestle rep, sat on a panel titled, “Avoiding Costly Mistakes in Asian Markets.”

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