Ryanair cancels Online PR departure

Online PR is all about openly engaging with key audiences online and promoting key messages about your brand.

Apparently Ryanair wants to engage, but in a hostile, bullying tone towards anyone who doesn’t agree with them. And doesn’t seem to care who knows.

If you haven’t heard the story, it’s absolutely priceless. Web developer Jason Roe posted an article on his blog discussing a possible fault he had discovered on the Ryanair website. While he was trying to change his departure Roe claims he discovered a way to get free flights.

The glitch wasn’t confirmed and no-one responding to the story was able to get flights for the bargain price of £0, but that didn’t stop Ryanair employees jumping to defend their website.

Resembling a cornered dog the responses called the Blogger an “idiot and a liar!” and damn near slandered Mr Roe’s credentials as a developer stating: “…if you would be a serious programmer you would know these things and would not post any of this on the web.”

While Ryanair should clearly have a strategy helping its workers understand the correct procedure for responding to negative coverage online, even more shocking is the official comment from the airline in the wake of this hoo-hah becoming public knowledge.

“Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion. It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy in corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again…”

“Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel.”

!

The fact its staff didn’t consider the repercussions of their scathing posts is a Ryanair failing that could have been prevented. Internal communication is vital and an appropriate, personal and welcoming response to the blog, indicating their thanks for drawing their attention to the issue but ensuring it is under control and taking on board the comments, could easily have been put together.

But surely the worst mistake of all – by defending this communication – Ryanair has opened itself up for a maelstrom of bad press. Ryanair has made it quite clear they have no interest in engaging with “lunatic bloggers”, completely failing to understand the massive influence online authors now have.

Online reputation management is a vital tool for responding and engaging with customers about your brand. By letting such negative comments come out and disrespecting bloggers in the process, no amount of “driving down the cost of air travel” is going to help repair the airline’s reputation. While no stranger to criticism, surely there has to be a comprehensive rethink of Ryanair’s online and offline PR strategy, because quite frankly, this is a PR freak show.

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