A 200 word response to this discussion.
1. The Valentine’s Day crisis created a significant business problem for JetBlue because it damaged their reputation. However, it revealed a larger business problem at JetBlue. It revealed that JetBlue had an infrastructure problem. Argenti (2016) points out that the CEO and founder of JetBlue, David Neeleman identified multiple operational failures that compounded the crisis, “primary culprits: inadequate communication protocols to direct the company’s 11,000 pilots and flight attendants about where to go and when; an overwhelmed reservation system; and a lack of cross-trained employees who could work outside their primary area of expertise during an emergency” (p. 108). He goes on to quote Neeleman, “We had an emergency control center full of people who didn’t know what to do. I had flight attendants sitting in hotel rooms for 3 days who couldn’t get a hold of us” (p. 108).
There were two major constituencies that this crisis forced JetBlue to address quickly. First, they had to reach out to their employees. They had to provide them with guidance and assure them that corporate was behind them. In an interview with the Public Strategist (2007), Vice President of Corporate Communications, Todd Burke, and Director of Corporate Communications, Jenny Dervin, stated that they reached out to all their employees and directed them on how to respond to the media, “Every crew member knows that if they are approached by the media, they should direct them to corporate communications”, and “No employee would say ‘no comment'” (p.17) to the media. Also to reassure all their employees, Neeleman went on multiple television and radio shows and stated that no employees would be fired because of the crisis. Secondly, JetBlue had to reach out to its customers. They had built their reputation as the airline that would, “bring humanity back to air travel” (Argenti 2016). Neeleman did this by creating a Customer Bill of Rights that outlined what customers could expect in compensation if JetBlue failed to meet certain standards. He also informed his customers that the Customer Bill of Rights would be retroactive for those passengers effected during the Valentine’s day crisis. This would cost between 20 to 30 million dollars, but by doing so it showed that JetBlue was serious about taking care of their customers. Communicating this to the public quickly, and being honest and taking responsibility, as well as making a public apology are examples of best practices.
The most desirable outcomes that JetBlue could have wanted to come out of this situation are, 1) repair and improve their reputation as a company that cares about its customers, 2) improve the infrastructure and organizational communication, and 3) strengthen its relationship with its employees.
Argenti, P.A. (2016). Corporate Communication (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
A 200 WORD RESPONSE FOR THIS DISCUSSION
2.The most significant business problem JetBlue faced was repairing their corporate identity. The Valentine’s Day Massacre escalated into a full crisis when JetBlue’s corporate leaders failed to implement a company communication strategy. Lack of communication to employees and customers led to confusion and inevitably a tarnished public image.
The critical constituency issues began with customers and employees. JetBlue should have made attempts to reconcile their errors with customers for the sake of (1) avoiding the loss of customer loyalties, (2) minimizing the number of personal stories reaching the media, and (3) repairing the companies image. PR Consultant Ned Barnett suggested JetBlue “needed to take immediate action, perhaps giving each passenger $10,000 — $1,000 for each hour passengers were held against their will — and a lifetime pass on [the airline]” (“PR Pros Evaluate,” 2007). Although this solution seems costly, the idea of offering incentives this extreme will contribute to the three areas of reconciliation mentioned above.
JetBlue’s next strategy should have been to appeal to their employees. In order to retain staff members, the corporate leaders should have established a plan for the corporate staff and flight crews who attempted to deescalate the issues that day. Whether they establish unlimited health care packages or full retirement funds, the employees should have been next to receive incentives for attempting to salvage the companies brand in the mist of a crisis. In a statement to the New York Times founder David Neeleman states, “our crew members didn’t fail us, we failed them and it caused tremendous hardship on them” (Coombs, W. & Holladay, S., 2010). This public admission of wrongdoing showed compassion for his staff; however, Neeleman should have used the publicity to strategically appeal to his current employees and recruit new ones at the same time.
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