I have been watching only a little TV lately. A few things on my DVR and that's about it. No morning news or anything. So, I got only a little info on this jetBlue flight attendant thing (thanks interwebz). And I find all the glamorizing of this persons actions a little nauseating. Yes, you too can be a folk hero for acting like a complete jackass. This was a person responsible for the safety of passengers? Using his judgment and training in the case of emergency? Yikes.
Every company has a few of these people; the ones that crack for one reason or another. It's hard to pick them out. Their potential for a freak-out rarely comes out in a reference check. I have done many, many of them (and I believe they are worthwhile despite others' opinion). Nobody ever said that the person was likely to storm out, compromise the safety of others, reach deep into their back of tricks and pull out the *drama!*.
I have no doubt that jetBlue was unaware that this guy could do something as ridiculous as what he did. They didn't want a big pile of internet and media fertilizer dumped on their doorstep.
It's amazing to me how responses to negative media events have changed on the last few years. Yeah, just a few years!
to this from the jetBlue blog:
August 11, 2010
It wouldn't be fair for us to point out absurdities in other corners of the industry without acknowledging when it’s about us. Well, this week’s news certainly falls into that category. Perhaps you heard a little story about one of our flight attendants? While we can’t discuss the details of what is an ongoing investigation, plenty of others have already formed opinions on the matter. Like, the entire Internet. (The reason we’re not commenting is that we respect the privacy of the individual. People can speak on their own behalf; we won’t do it for them.)
While this episode may feed your inner Office Space, we just want to take this space to recognize our 2,300 fantastic, awesome and professional Inflight Crewmembers for delivering the JetBlue Experience you’ve come to expect of us.
You can’t make this shtick up.
I am thrilled to see a single response to the media BS via blog and in a tone that...well, I'd like to think is a little bit like my own. And trust me, I'm not in charge of PR around here. I think that the video response was right at that time; people wanted to know what changes would be made in light of the crisis. But who knew that a few short years later, it would be OK to post a response to a crisis (even one as ridiculous as this one)?
I think that people want a little contrition. But they also want authenticity. And they want to know that the people behind the company are a little bit like them.
I have to say that I am thrilled with jetBlue's response. Partly because they got it right. And partly because I see a future for myself in progressive PR. Awesome.