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Stephen Logan

United Airlines Suffer YouTube Public Relations Nightmare

23rd Jul 2009 Social Media 1 minute to read

As we’ve covered many times in the Koozai Blog, social media can be a force for good publicity just as easily as it can be for bad. A lesson that United Airlines executives must now be learning the hard way.

There are some people who will reluctantly accept bad customer services, then there are others who will write letters to show their disapproval, and finally there are those who pick up a guitar and video camera to sing a song to distribute through  YouTube; people like Canadian musician Dave Carroll for example. His initial ire with unhelpful customer service officials over damage inflicted to his treasured guitar has spilt out into a global phenomenon.

The initial song, United Break Guitars, from a proposed trilogy of airline angst related tunes has amassed over 3.5 million views. Whilst Carroll has since been offered the compensation (which he rejected) it has proven to be a huge public relations blunder, wiping of 10 percent of the company’s stock value in the process (a purported $180million no less!)

Fortunately not all mistakes are magnified to quite this extent; however, in the modern world where communication is so free and accessible, greater emphasis has to be put on how you deal with customers. Whether you’re a large airline company or a small Ecommerce firm, you can’t afford to have major lapses online or off.

Social media has the power to transpose a small story into a major one. Yes, you can use this to your advantage with positive reviews and equally affirming news stories, but never forget that there is a flipside so always be prepared.

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