Virgin America and its PR mess

virginamerica3 Virgin America and its PR messVirgin America, the upstart airline, recently changed its reservation system.  Two weeks later problems remain and the airline has been on the receiving end of social-media vitriol from angry clients.

Initially Virgin PR put on a brave face, assuring that the change had been a “smooth transition.”  Meanwhile Twitter and Facebook were a blizzard of furious customer comments.

Two weeks later Virgin’s Facebook page is finally forthcoming with sweaty palmed apologies. It reads as an essay in remorse.

This is a PR case study for every customer-facing organization that merrily wades into the waters of social media.

The PR Verdict:  “C Minus” for Virgin America.

Social media can tell us in an instant how our PR strategy is working. But it also requires an instant response. More specifically, when media outlets begin reporting on widespread rage among your customers (see article), it’s clear the PR strategy has failed. Virgin America has redeemed itself with a late change of tack but only time will tell if the damage was permanent. We are giving Virgin America a pass – but only just.

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