|August 16, 2010|
|How tone deaf to PR is JetBlue?|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|How tone-deaf to PR is JetBlue Airways? |
Folk hero Steve "Slider" Slater is a PR gift from the gods. He is the everyman's "Sully," the hero captain who ditched into the Hudson.
You can bet a savvy PR player, such as Ireland's Ryanair, would quickly capitalize on the massive publicity generated by the air steward who told a rude and uncooperative passenger to buzz-off, grabbed a couple of cold ones, and slid down the emergency chute to fame, glory, boyfriend and a possible seven-year jail term.
One suspects Ryanair's new PR firm, Edelman, is cooking up ways to recruit Slider for spokesperson duties.
How about a VP-customer pacification post? He knows how to keep the animals in check. What about VP-employee relations? Air stewards everywhere applaud Slider for standing up to the unruly passenger.
A JetBlue staffer told the New York Daily News: "It's something we all fantasize about, but we have kids and a mortgage or are just too chicken - or sane -to go through with it."
JetBlue, which has suspended Slater, once had a scrappy underdog image. The nation’s No. 7 carrier is now a corporate drone.
That transformation took place in the aftermath of JetBlue's 2007 Valentine's Day ice storm disaster (the tale of JetBlue passengers trapped on the runway for hours is a Harvard Business School case study) and the 2008 move into a palace-like $750M terminal at JFK Airport.
Earlier this year, JetBlue threatened to relocate headquarters from NYC to Orlando. How's that for loyalty to the city that made it a success story!
CEO Dave Barger nixed the move after deciding the $75M moving cost was too expensive, according to Bloomberg. NYC's generous contribution of $3M to expand JetBlue’s terminal probably helped.
There is still a shot of PR redemption. JetBlue is a non-union shop so Slater is pretty much on his own when it comes to legal bills.
Thousands of Facebook fans have raised cash for Slater's defense. JetBlue should move in and foot the entire bill.
After "Slider" sorts through the anticipated endorsement deals, the airline should put him back to work.
JetBlue could use more character, especially characters like him.
Time is short. Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary is bound to pounce.
(Update: JetBlue responded on its blog Wednesday afternoon.)
Return to Latest News