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August 12, 2010
JetBlue Keeps Its Cool
We don't  think much of Steven Slater's means of departing from his JetBlue flight attendant's job (though we acknowledge he apparently was mightily bothered), but we think a lot of JeBlue's blogged response to the incident.

It goes:

"It wouldn’t be fair for us to point out absurdities in other corners of the industry without acknowledging when it’s about us. Well, this week’s news certainly falls into that category. Perhaps you heard a little story about one of our flight attendants? While we can't discuss the details of what is an ongoing investigation, plenty of others have already formed opinions on the matter. Like, the entire Internet. (The reason we're not commenting is that we respect the privacy of the individual. People can speak on their own behalf; we won't do it for them.)

"While this episode may feed your inner Office Space, we just want to take this space to recognize our 2,100 fantastic, awesome and professional Inflight Crewmembers for delivering the JetBlue Experience you've come to expect of us."

Low key, humorous, respectful of all concerned, and appreciative of all the flight attendants who don't activate the emergency slide to leave their planes. 

JetBlue is using social media to its advantage with this post on its Blue Tales blog. It kept its own cool (by the time it blogged, anyway) and issued an "above the fray" response. And what an opening! "Perhaps you heard a little story about one of our flight attendants?"

JetBlue posted the response yesterday afternoon on its Twitter and Facebook pages and its blog was inaccessible for about 20 minutes. That's something to be mindful of in using the Web to respond to a crisis communication situation. If there's a lot of interest, your site is likely to be swamped, thus inoperative, for a while. It's not a good way to get a crisis-response message out if you're in an actual crisis and the Web is your only recourse. A media center with live reporters and ample telephone lines and TV plug-ins is highly advisable. 

But, of course, Slater sliding away wasn't that sort of crisis. 

(We tried to reach JetBlue's blog ourselves to verify information, and the site may still be under pressure. It wasn't responding, but we tried again a few minutes later, and it came up. Maybe the airline's gaining altitude on this.)

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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