If you haven’t already come across it, US Airways tweeted an image as an insult to an unhappy customer yesterday that has left our (and everybody else’s) jaws on the ground!
All I can say is WTF US Airways!! Who have you hired to be your frontline and what were you thinking? Although some may say this is good publicity, I can bet that senior management over at the airline is in entire disagreement – as are TONS of their customers.
Why is it so often that we find airlines at the heart of published gaffes and thoughtless (with major repercussions) posts to social media? I think that there is a need for some major internal re-evaluating in today’s biggest airline companies. If for nothing else, than for the sake of risk management.
Alright, before I reveal the very graphic tweet tweeted by the airline, let me first post the airline’s response to the incident:
We apologize for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating.
— US Airways (@USAirways) April 14, 2014
If you do a quick search for #USAirways, you’ll notice that, yes some people are shocked and upset, but the majority of the sentiment is that US Airways is now seen as a joke. For an organization that revolves around safety and being taken seriously, being seen as a joke is a very serious and negative association to their brand (which they have spent millions upon millions on through the years trying to shape their image) and has resulted in a ton of unwanted attention and can ultimately have some very serious negative repercussions.
On the other hand, it was the fault of the employee, the tweeter (yes, that they hired and trusted) but the appropriate actions from here on out can help them salvage their reputation. Though this is true, the reality is that no matter what they do, this one will be hard to live down for a while…
The outrageous tweet
If you’ve noticed, I haven’t shown you the graphic image that was tweeted by the airline yet… I contemplated posting it at all because of its vulgar content. Though we are all adults who read this blog, and though I’m not one to be sensitive, I still feel like it’s a little too graphic to be published to this post for all of eternity. That said, I’ll make you click here if you want to see it. But I warn: the content within this tweet – that was tweeted publicly by US Airways – is graphic and may be unsettling for some. Though if you choose, have a look and see what all the fuss is about!
The oh-so-important lesson
DO NOT do this – or anything like it – from your organization’s Twitter (or other social media) account(s). Make sure that you engage professional and mature people to manage your social media accounts – your frontline. Vet, test and train. Your frontline is directly related to your organization’s reputation. Be wise in your selections, policies and choices.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.