Friday Drop: Good week for BA CEO Willie Walsh

This week the 'world's favourite airline' lost a little more of its lustre when the long-running dispute with super union, Unite, came to a head with a three-day strike.

Walsh: Facing his own film crew
Walsh: Facing his own film crew

As far as the donkey-jacketed union cheerleaders were concerned, this was a chance for their boss Tony Woodley to flex his muscles and make hay.

However, unlike a large number of BA flights, the union media campaign never fully got off the ground and that is in part thanks to a commendable digital PR campaign by BA. Appearing in pastel shirts and casual jumpers, Walsh appeared a paragon of relaxation (baggy eyes understandable). Set in front of sunny open plan offices, his lilting brogue was the most resonant element of the direct to YouTube productions.

They accentuated the positives; ‘it's great to see people sticking with BA' and one in the eye for union propagandists claiming that dozens of aircraft were parked at Cardiff. ‘We have a world class maintenance facility there, that's why'. Key messages around ‘good atmosphere' and ‘keeping BA flying' were repeated to good effect. This strategy by-passed the need to speak to those pesky journos. TV news even ran the videos, circumventing the traditional route for crisis comms. A fine week in the face of left-wing turbulence.

Key Lessons:

Focusing on the customer can help you win the battle for hearts and minds

Set the record straight in the face of inaccurate information

Bad week for US PRO Ari Flesicher

That well-known sporting svengali Ari Fleischer has fleetingly been in the news this week after replying to a Tiger Woods ‘come and help me' text message. President Bush's former spokesman and PR foghorn has set himself up as a sports communications specialist. Rumours swirled that the texting Tiger had taken Fleischer on in his increasingly ham-fisted attempts at rehabilitation. But is this true? The Daily Mail claimed he was already acting like a member of team Tiger ‘by not returning calls'. Woods' manager is already known as Doctor No.

Yet two weeks after apparently making the hire, Fleischer must have cracked one into the rough, because the ‘working relationship' is now over. Was Ari guilty of ‘transgressions'? Rumours also abound that he had been on board for the cringe-worthy TV ‘apology', set in what looked like a crematorium. Was Fleischer lurking in the shadows feeding lines to the Tiger? Every PR man knows, once you become the story, that's it. The Huffington Post associate him with Bush, wars and 9/11, and ‘having him behind the curtain gave the impression Tiger had something to hide'. Surely not more ‘transgressions'? Either way Fleischer is once again a cab for hire.

Key Lessons:

Call in expert help, sooner rather than later

Choose your PR advisor wisely, track record and media notoriety aren't always enough

 

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