Delta Delta Come In: We Have A “P”roblem

A  Delta customer’s baggage was sent to the wrong state.  The customer actually caught the error and brought it to the attention at the ticket counter where he learned that his luggage was already in route on another plane.   The agent agreed to re-route it, but there was a problem and it took the customer longer than anticipated to get his luggage. Does this sound familiar to you?  But, that’s not the end of the story. More significantly was the physical state in which his luggage was returned to him.  The customer claimed someone urinated on his luggage, stole personal property, and squirted toothpaste all over his toiletry bag.  Do you believe him?  Well, I’m not sure Delta did either because his complaint went unnoticed…until the customer submitted a video on YouTube titled, “Thanks Delta Airlines for using my baggage as a toilet!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SIF-R2lzek). 

Take a look at the video…now do you believe him????  Well, since I don’t see him picking up the luggage, opening it, nor are there any witnesses, I can’t verify how this damage happened.  Nonetheless the video is compelling and damaging.  What’s worse is that the customer posted the video to Reddit, which had 500 comments, and Gawker listed 27,437 views.  Interestingly, when I went to look at the comments on YouTube, the following message appeard “Adding comments has been disabled for this video.”  Well after scrolling through some comments on Reddit, it does seem people are worried about travelling, luggage, and bomb sniffing dogs that urinate on luggage (as explained in some of those comments).

 I read in PR Daily that Delta finally responded to the customer on YouTube leaving the following message:

“This is Susan Elliott with Delta. I wanted to apologize that you were unable to successfully communicate with us regarding your situation.

We want to talk more with you about this matter to figure out exactly what occurred. If it is determined that your bag has been mishandled in this way, know that we find this unacceptable. Let’s connect so we can determine our best course of action and how we can offer you resolution.”

Again…I can’t confirm this was a comment, but I do believe in Michael Sebastian’s reporting at PR Daily, and that this is accurate and true.  But taking down the comment section is just plain suspicious to me.

According to PR Daily, “…the airline won some accolades for its swift response.”  I’m sure the customer is less frustrated, but still not happy.  We don’t know how Delta responded to this, if the customer is satisfied and how Delta plans to ensure luggage safety and final arrival baggage.   Do you feel comfortable flying Delta???   Well, we don’t have all the facts to make this decision yet.  As a PR professional, would advise Delta to respond to this, provide an apology, look into who vandalized and stole his property, and finally how Delta is going to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other customers (which should be made available online) 

 As for this mom’s playground perspective…perhaps PT101 is in order (Potty Training 101).

 Below are the links: 

YouTube video, the title “Thanks Delta Airlines for using my baggage as a toilet!” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SIF-R2lzek). 

Gawker:

http://gawker.com/5814338/did-a-delta-employee-pee-all-over-this-guys-luggage).

Reddit:

(http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/i5ug5/til_delta_airlines_screwed_up_my_baggage_then/

PR Daily: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/8672.aspx

Sonja Morgan Consistent Messages Rally Support

Around the sandbox today was the latest talk on Bravo TV’s reality star Sonja Morgan from, The Real Housewives of New York City.  Currently in divorce proceedings with millionaire JP Morgan, viewers saw a resilient well trained Sonja under tremendous pressure from the announcement of her bankruptcy. Her blog on Bravo shows consistent viewer support and  sympathy.  Why?? In this communication expert’s opinion it was her ability to stay consistent with her messages. Recently, we have just witnessed former Congressman Anthony Weiner crumble under the pressures of his Twitter sexscapades, with his less than honest responses during his first-round of media interviews.  Perhaps he should have taken a cue for Morgan, who was open about her situation, including the fact that she was in the process of wrapping her hands around the entire legal issue. 

 English author Ernest Bramah had once quoted, “A reputation for a thousand years may depend on the conduct of a single moment”. What I saw last night was Sonja the survivor protecting her reputation by providing consistent messages, and staying on point.   A natural concern for any pr pro is that the client will be led into talking too much, talking off point, or saying something that could be misconstrued.

 Being consistent with your messages, as Sonja was, is so very important.  We hear this all the time, but the reality of reality TV and life is that there are usually far more critics than supporters, which can take you down faster than a toddler having a temper tantrum.  Sonja was a trooper, and while this had to be an emotional hurricane for her, not only did she maintain her composure, but she was vigilant in her key messages:

  • “I was advised by my lawyers to file to protect my assets. I have a lot of outstanding business, my assets tied up in divorce, and needed some time to sort it out. Never in my life did I imagine being in this situation. I pay my credit cards in full every month — as well as all my bills and mortgages. I have stellar credit, so it was a scary move for me.”
  • “I am heartbroken that I have had the worse advice from so called experts. I trusted that my managing director who had 20 years experience in the movie business knew what he was doing and that my financial advisors and lawyers had me covered — all while going through a divorce and a financial market crash.”
  • “It has been a steep learning curve in a business I knew nothing about. That was my mistake. I am back to doing what I know and will recover some of my loss with continued hard work. I have always been a hard worker and pull my own weight in my relationships.”

I would advise Sonja to resist disclosing too much information such as the brief explanation of her managing director—it gives the appearance that she is placing blame on someone else, and from what I gather, she was in due diligence mode figuring out exactly what happened. Only talk about what you know for sure.   Otherwise, well done Sonja.

Read Sonja’s blog at: http://www.bravotv.com/the-real-housewives-of-new-york-city/season-4/blogs/sonja-morgan/on-a-lighter-note?page=0,1

Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/reputation.html#ixzz1PYippHhd

Spectacular Sex Scandal Debacles: Powerhouse’s Go Boom

Larry Craig’s toe tapping, Elliot Spitzers “client # 9” and most recently Weiner’s…well you know!  Power changes people…we’ve all heard this time and time again.  But the reality is that all these politicians thought they were in a safe position where they could control what they wanted to be  public and private.  As a public relations and media relations expert, the number one rule I tell my client’s is, “everything is on the record, whether you want it to be or not.”  It doesn’t matter if you are a famous politician or a local businessman/woman working within your own small community.  Any wrongdoing uncovered taints your credibility and can quickly cause damage that can bring down a business, senator, congressman, etc.  While these crises keep many in my industry rather busy (ie: employed), the reality is that this scenario is completely avoidable.  As a constituent, this may be one of the most upsetting points, while on the other end of the spectrum some of those in the political arena might be most upset because now they are forced to take a position regarding an unsavory situation a colleague was involved in.

How many times have you had to take a side publicly?  Among friends…family???  How about work???  Did it have a direct impact on the person’s side that you didn’t take???  On the playground the metrics are very clear and identifiable.  Once wrongdoing is confirmed, you are doomed to play in the sandbox alone.  CNN pulled a terrific reminder of these scandals recently which you can find at http://bit.ly/mc8DeF

Botox Mom A Hoax- GMA To Pay?

Recently, we were aghast when we heard about a mom in California who injected her 8-year old with Botox, and later on we we learned it was a hoax.  One of the most interesting aspects of this story to me is the fact that “Good Morning America” and “Inside Edition” allegedly offered to pay the mom for her story.  Why pay???   As public relations professionals, most of us work very diligently to generate awareness for our clients via credible media.  When the media pay for interviews it may appear to reduce the legitimacy of the segment…and of the show.   I realize all national stations put offers on the table for “got to have them” stories, but as a consumer, it could be viewed as somewhat offensive.   As an entrepreneur and businesswoman, I understand the significance for getting the story and the viewers that go along with…ratings, ratings, ratings.

The story itself is a parenting debacle and the lessons are multiple…the Huffington Post characterized them and the overall situation very well.  What do you think? 

Article for reference:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/19/sheena-upton-botox-mom-hoax_n_864148.html

Think Before You Speak

I read recently in The Daily Beast http://bit.ly/jEQ537 about Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich’s “disastrous” campaign rollout.  Of particular note is a quote from Rich Galen, who worked for Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, “On the Richter scale it’s pretty serious—7.2. It feeds into the greatest fear about Newt’s candidacy, that he can’t help himself. He’s missing the gene that says because it comes into your head, it doesn’t have to come out of your mouth.” 

Whatever political beliefs you have, one thing is for sure…diarrhea of the mouth, in any case, is simply inappropriate.  Very often, emotions run high and when some people are in a situation where confrontation is inevitable, it’s important to think about the questions…and stay a few steps ahead of where you think the questions are leading too…and where YOU would like them to go.  An important part of public relations is media training– which I find very fascinating.  Many client’s I’ve worked with in the past often believed they knew how to respond to questions from key stakeholders, including the media until we put a camera in front of them and hit the replay button.  The reality is that each stakeholder is coming from a different place.  And when you think you know the answer automatically, without considering the stakeholder you are responding back to there there is a good chance you’ve just put yourself into a dangerous situation, not only for yourself, but for all those you are representing. 

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard one mom on the playground explain to another what she meant to say…I really think one of the most popular phrases around the slide is “Oh I didn’t mean it, you shouldn’t take what I said that way”.  The damage is already done.  Here is the lesson for today my fellow readers…THINK before YOU SPEAK…Say what you mean  (be sure to back it up), and finally MEAN WHAT YOU SAY! 

 Link to the article: ://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-18/newt-gingrichs-disastrous-rollout/

Egg On Your Facebook

We’ve recently heard about the alleged unintended smear campaign Facebook heralded against Google, Such tactics shrouded in a cloak of secrecy, when comes to light, often resonate within the pr community as distasteful and ugly.  Many industry friends are grateful they have never been asked to do such a thing…yet I wonder if they realize how often these campaigns happen? 

Realistically, Facebook had a valid point– to educate the public about a violation in consumer privacy.  Let’s face it, I too want to know if my privacy is being violated…it’s my right to know.  But, the strategy to get a blogger on board and use his/her to drive this consumer privacy issue appears to have backfired, considering the blogger exposed this story.  As far as what has been made public, there was no need to take that tactic.  Facebook has enough recognition to help lead this discussion openly, transparently, and yes…as a leader! 

Mom’s across the playground all know how “whisper campaigns” or as we like to call it, “gossip” can backfire.  I myself have been subjected to this…yet as a PR pro, I had taken the high road via transparency and blew the gossip mongering mom’s and their flip flops  back to the park benches…and reality.  I work in facts…in logic and in connecting the emotional with logical.  At the end of the day, when we rest our weary heads on our pillows at night don’t we just want to make sense of things????  In fact, isn’t’ that part of what we try to do as public relations/ communications experts? 

For those interested in a recent article check out The Daily Beast article http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-12/facebook-busted-in-clumsy-smear-attempt-on-google/#