Rich Thomaselli | June 17, 2015 12:30 PM ET
Does Anybody In Aviation Understand How PR Works?
Does anybody in the aviation industry understand – truly understand – how public relations really works?
Understand the concept of less is more?
Understand that when you have to put out a ‘clarification’ statement to the original statement, it strains credibility?
Sometimes, it makes me wonder.
I believe I’ve mentioned this before but for the sake of full disclosure I will say it again. For 11 years I worked at Advertising Age, the pre-eminent global magazine covering advertising, marketing, media and public relations. Does that make me an expert? No, but I’d like to think I have a pretty good understanding of how things work.
And I can tell you this – three times in the last week or so I have seen examples of how things don’t work.
Here’s the benign example. Want to send me a press release? Great! Want to send me a form press release where you’re just subbing in the name of the recipient and his or her media outlet? OK, that’s good too. Want to send me a press release that starts off ‘Dear Tom’? That would be bad. Reminds me of this:
All kidding aside, the job of a public relations department is to use all available channels to get the word out, including the use of the media as a conduit to the public as well as social media for more direct contact. In the case of the International Air Transport Association’s announcement last week of a new recommendation for optimal size of carry-on luggage, it was botched from the beginning.
Don’t think so? Like I said above, when you have to put out a second press release two days later to ‘clarify’ the first release, it’s botched. And thusly, IATA announced Wednesday that it is "reassessing the initiative."
When businesses make decisions, they consult all available parties. It’s clear IATA tapped its constituency, the airlines, because it announced that eight carriers were already onboard with these new, smaller size dimensions. It’s clear IATA tapped luggage companies, because in a matter of hours after the initial announcement regarding a new suggested carry-on size, luggage-maker TUMI put out a release saying it would work with IATA.
It’s unclear whether IATA canvassed – pardon the pun – the most important entity of all.
The business traveler.
The third example is the ongoing debate over the Open Skies Agreements, the story that just keeps on giving.
Too much, in fact.
In a span of 19 days, Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan spoke about his airline’s profitability … followed by a statement from the Partnership for Fair & Open Skies, the umbrella group for American, Delta and United airlines, chiding Hogan for refusing to release financial documents.
Then the U.S. Travel Association, the de facto U.S. mouthpiece for the defense of the Persian Gulf airlines, sent a letter to the Obama administration urging the government not to change the rules of Open Skies …. followed by another release from the Partnership for Fair & Open Skies.
Then, on Monday, Qatar Airways announced it earned $103 million in profits last year …. followed by yet another release from the Partnership for Fair & Open Skies.
We get it, OK? You believe the Persian Gulf airlines cheat. But enough is enough already. You’ve stated your point already and now you’re bordering on overkill when it comes to public relations.
Sometimes, less is more. You won the first round; you got the Obama administration to consider reviewing the Open Skies Agreements and opening up talks with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Now it’s just overkill.
And now I feel another press release coming my way.
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