Ryanair Cheap Flights and Cheap Service

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Oh dear. I guess the folks over at Ryanair, the cheap flights specialist, haven’t been doing much reading on the power of self publishing and social media lately. It’s the only way you could really explain the two-feet-firmly-in-mouth approach to their public relations over the past week.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it appears that last week staff from Ryanair got in a little argument with a freelance developer, Jason Roe, over his personal blog comments about a bug he discovered in their booking process whilst looking for cheap flights. Ryanair staff seem to have taken exception to this and replied with comments such as:

“Jason! You’re an idiot and a liar!”

They then went on to rip into his professional abilities with comments that started with such pleasantries as:

“If you would work in your pathetic life on a such big project…”

“…keep working on yourself and don’t post b*ll*cks”

“If you would be a serious programmer…”

Ouch! News of this didn’t take long to spread, quickly becoming a buzz topic on Twitter, blogs and national media titles, such as the Times Online.

Cue activation of the Ryanair Crisis Communications Plan, yes?

No. What followed was this statement by Ryanair spokesman, Stephen McNamara:

“Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion.

“It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again.

“Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel”

Oh dear. In an age where it’s so important to carefully manage your brand reputation, you just went and called an army of self-publishers idiots and lunatics. Smart move, Ryanair.

Judging by the official statement issued by Ryanair, it doesn’t seem like they’re particularly bothered by it, easily dismissing and insulting their own customers.

Well, let’s see if they maintain that position, as the negative publicity continues to roll in. Not only has it reached the large audience national news titles, but the bloggers are incensed and it wouldn’t take much for bloggers to get their revenge using the very ‘idiotic’ tools Ryanair mocked.

Lesson to be learned here? Be very careful of who in your company is speaking on your behalf in the public sphere – ensuring they are on brand message and welcoming of feedback from your audience community. And most of all, don’t be such an idiot.

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Gary Robinson is a UK digital marketer, who fell into this tech world by accident and decided to stay and play. That was 1999. He's still here. His current loves are conversion optimisation, mobile and tinkering with new technology. He also has a fondness for coffee.

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