There was a great piece online last week at theglobemail.com that gave five tips to Air Canada about how they may have better handled a PR issue that happened recently. While the piece is focused on an incident with the airline, there is wealth of knowledge in here for any organization. It’s worth a read.
From what we understand, a young boy who is fighting a terminal illness travelled to New York City recently to live out one of his life wishes. At some point during his travels, with Air Canada, his wheelchair – which is a necessity for this young fellow – was damaged. His aunt tweeted about it, which, given the situation, touched many people and created some buzz online. The thing of it is, while it turns out that Air Canada was working on the situation, they weren’t communicating this to anyone – including the people discussing it on Twitter.
I am not sure whether Air Canada didn’t know the conversations were happening or decided that they weren’t important enough to respond to. Either way, their silence hurt them. Air Canada doesn’t have the best brand reputation and this incident, which was about a sick little boy and a dream trip for him, didn’t help much.
We are always cautious about criticizing how an organization handles things because you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. In this case, I think that’s part of the challenge. The public (which are made up of a large group of people who travel on airplanes) feels that too much goes on behind closed doors with Air Canada. We feel like Air Canada doesn’t respect us or care enough to communicate with us. It wouldn’t have taken very much effort to get online and explain that they were on this. They could have explained easily that they were fixing the wheelchair AND were going to provide this young boy and his family with some additional perks to make up for the inconvenience and challenges they faced because of this incident. But they didn’t.
The young boy now has his chair back and is excited that he’ll be taking his cousins to Disney World, another wish of his, as Air Canada has offered to take them.
It’s a shame that Air Canada didn’t take the time to tweet or announce that they were doing the right thing. It would have been a lot easier than taking yet another hit to their organizational reputation.