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So What’s Up With Airlines?

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, the news coverage of United Airlines latest debacle has been unavoidable. The airline was in the news in late March for refusing to let a 10-year-old girl wear leggings on her flight, and then again a month later for dragging a passenger off his flight when it was over-booked.

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The video of a man being dragged of the United flight went viral and I mean VIRAL. It was a lead story on CNN, the original tweet was seen thousands of times, we even stopped one of my PR classes to discuss it.

So I guess the question everyone has asking is how do airlines let it get this far? The answer is quite simple and one most companies should be familiar with: United didn’t respond correctly.

In the hours after the video went viral, United released a statement basically reiterating their airline rules. They didn’t apologize, they didn’t admit fault. It basically had every PR person with a braid cringing.

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Flash forward to this past week, A man aboard an American Airlines flight tweeted a video of a flight attendant getting violent with another passenger who was with her two children. What’s the difference you may ask? American Airlines apologized and they did it quickly, and people noticed. Twitter users were quick to commend the airline for recognizing what the flight attendant did was wrong.

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Sometimes it’s not the actual event that matters, it’s how you handle and respond to it.

 

Sensationalism vs. Realism

Sensationalism is seen every day. You may not know it, but it’s there. Turn on CNN and you’ll see “BREAKING NEWS” flash across the screen with a headline that’s already been discussed for the last three days.

I don’t think I have ever seen a more clear example of sensationalism than I did last Sunday. In case you’ve been living under a rock, a Cleveland man went on Facebook live and murdered a man. The video went viral, and social media exploded. In the video, the man claimed to have killed 15 people. Cleveland Police held a press conference later that night and disputed those claims, saying they had no reason to believe there were other victims.

But for some reason, social media clung to that notion. I saw numerous tweets going viral, claiming this man had already killed 15 people. Most of the accounts were spam accounts, aimed at getting as many retweets as possible to get noticed. And boy, did tweeting “this man killed 15 people” really resonate with users. The highest number I saw was 11,000 people + retweeting a post.

I am not going to even try to downplay the situation, because it was tragic in every way. My issues lies with people reporting incorrect facts and not even bothering to check if they are true. In this case, people are causing a panic.

Moving past social media, I saw credited journalists using “claims to have killed 15 people” in their headline in some way. That is the definition of sensationalism. Steve Stephens claiming to have killed 15 people was an unfounded claim. But journalists ran with it.

I can see how an incident like this may not seem like a huge deal to some. But as a PR major and future professional, I have been taught to tell the truth and state the facts.

People reporting incorrect and unfounded facts is un-ethical and can create a panic. But this is the world we live in. Social media is instant and certain journalists need to sensationalize their headlines to get clicks. It still does not make it right. Before sharing a story or fact, make sure all the facts are straight. Nothing is worse than creating sensationalism.

Welcome to the PR World

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Welcome to my blog, everyone!

I’ve tried this blogging thing before, and have never stuck with it. But I am going to try and stay committed this time.

My niche lies within the world of public relations. As I have learned from my professors, PR always needs to have a “seat at the table”. They should be consulted in every big decision a company makes (I’m looking at you, United Airlines).

As we have recently learned from the United debacle, allowing your CEO to draft their own apologies can be troublesome. It’s these kinds of situations I will be blogging and giving my take about.

I hope this blog will give me the outlet to give my PR take on current events, both positive and negative. But I also have other interests, such as sports and pop-culture. So expect me to chime in on those areas from time to time.

I look forward to continuing to share my thoughts with you!