SEATTLE: When Jeremy Hermanns ended up on an Alaska Airlines (AS) flight with a punctured fuselage, he blogged his experience.
Among many comments he got were some caustic ones that he said originated from AS's IP address. One of the commenters remained anonymous, but identified herself as an AS employee.
Amanda Tobin, manager for media relations for Alaska Airlines, said Alaska Airlines has not provided any official comments to the weblog and was currently investigating Hermanns' contentions.
She added: "It is our policy that company computers and infrastructure should be used for company business."
Public relations professionals say troubles like Alaska Airlines' is part of a trend toward more online statements - official or otherwise - by employees.
"Most companies don't have policy on this, but if [an employee] speaks online, he or she becomes a de facto spokesperson," said Mike Spataro, EVP of Weber Shandwick's web relations group. "Sometimes it will hurt a brand."
Spataro said that companies need to include blogging in their codes of conduct; if PR departments catch wind of a blog commenting on their they should alert employees not to take matters into their own hands.
"Get it up on the front page of the [company] intranet and say its being handled accordingly," Spataro said.