It would’ve been fun to have been a fly on the wall the day that United Airlines found out about the video from Dave Carroll that ended up going viral. I’m sure reactions were not positive but did United take the video seriously at first? I don’t know the answer to that. I doubt United thought it would spiral out of control like it did and this being the first of its kind, I doubt they had a plan in place.
If I had been the United Airlines Online Reputation Manager at the time, I would’ve taken swift action. From all that I’ve read, it doesn’t seem like United acted very quickly. It took several days for the mainstream media to pick up on the video and that is when the video spiraled out of control with views and social media activity. In that time I would gotten out in front of the story and tried to put the fire out.
My tactic would’ve been to be compassionate towards Dave Carroll and present a message that was on his level. Corporate speak during this type of situation isn’t going to work, no matter how prestigious the brand. With any communication taking place, it would be important to remember that you’re speaking to a person. I would’ve used a tone that made people realize that United is putting themselves in Dave’s shoes.
An apology and reaction to the video would’ve been issued and circulated though all forms of media. It doesn’t seem that United did much on social media in terms of approaching the subject or responding to any comments. Social media and blogs is how the video went viral, so it is important for United to utilize those outlets when spreading its message.
While I know I wouldn’t have been able to respond to everyone, statements can be made generally to address the comments being made. While the main stream media would be running with the topic, they also could’ve presented United’s thoughts had there been some.
A formal press release would be posted to the company website and kept in place until the attention died down. I wouldn’t want people coming to United’s website and not see any reference. People shouldn’t have to find the response from United on any other site. If the company had a blog, I would’ve had someone write about how the situation could’ve gone differently and ultimately give Dave Carroll credit for new customer service policies that would be put into place.
Dave Carroll ended up producing multiple videos and United was prepared. It ended up responding with a statement an hour after the second video and even using a pretty laid back message as its response.