Ryanair's new comms chief to eschew social media

Robin Kiely, the incoming head of comms at Ryanair, has pledged to build bridges with traditional media, but dismissed the value of social media engagement.

'Worst job in PR': Robin Kiely is Ryanair's new comms head
'Worst job in PR': Robin Kiely is Ryanair's new comms head

Kiely said that while other airlines had 'tapped into social media' platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, the sites 'would not be helpful' to Ryanair's comms strategy.

The airline's former comms manager this week steps up to what Ryanair dubbed 'the worst job in PR'. He replaces Stephen McNamara, who is joining the Irish Rugby Football Union.

Kiely will be supported by his own replacement once the role has been filled, as well as about six agencies across Europe.

Noting the existence of more than one fake Ryanair account on Facebook and Twitter, which have significant consumer followings, Kiely said: 'A Facebook account would not be helpful to us, as we would have so many people looking for a response.'

He called the social network a 'two-way tool' and said maintaining a dedicated account would probably mean 'hiring two more people just to sit on Facebook all day'.

'If customers want to get in touch, the methods are there,' he added, referring to the brand's customer care line.

Kiely is keen to 'open (Ryanair) up to the media' through a dedicated section on Ryanair.com to give journalists better access to the airline and to 'prevent false claims' from spreading in the press.

'We find that if an issue breaks in one country, within a matter of hours or days it has spread across Europe,' he said. 'It is important to nip those in the bud.'

The airline will continue to aggressively fight any questions over its safety record.

The Sunday Times last month printed a correction of a story from September 2012 that claimed Ryanair planes had broken safety rules in Spanish airspace 1,201 times.

Ryanair's revenues in the three months to 31 December 2012 rose 15 per cent to EUR969m (£828m).

Social media activity by FTSE 100 firms (which do not include Ryanair) is the focus of PRWeek's feature, The FTSE 100 social media index, this week.

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