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Our CEO and fearless leader Taulbee Jackson always says if you can’t offer a solution, don’t complain about a problem.

As most mothers did, my mother always told me if I couldn’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

My grandmother probably said it best: “If you keep mouthing off like that, a bigger boy’s going to pop you one.”

Perhaps JetBlue was privy to the advice of all three and, in the online flap surrounding the epic bailout of a frustrated flight attendant, chose to say nothing. It was a full two days before the company acknowledged the incident on their blog.

“While we can’t discuss the details of what is an ongoing investigation, plenty of others have already formed opinions on the matter. Like, the entire Internet.”


I absolutely loved the humanity behind this post. A little bit of friendly ribbing goes a long way in my book. But the bigger message here was more important:

JetBlue tacitly admitted they couldn’t hope to control the online wildfire, and didn’t plan to try.

The story became bigger than the company itself, and any kind of real-time damage control would come off contrived and defensive.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I don’t think so.

My initial reaction to their silence was to wonder why they didn’t swoop into guardrail mode and turn that internet frown upside down. How about taking the opportunity for a little public give-and-take on airline safety procedures? In keeping with their usual humorous tone, maybe something akin to, “Our flight attendants take the safety demonstrations really seriously.”

I was not alone in this sentiment; the general consensus among social media marketing mavens like Michael Levine and Conor Brady was that JetBlue’s silence was deadly.

But as more details emerged and the story progressed into an investigation and possible legal ramifications, JetBlue showed better instincts than I. They kept it under their hats for a couple of days/news cycles, then laid waste to the room with their clever, brief retort.

With all the social media tools at their disposal, they chose a simple, direct, and wittily self-deprecating approach. Their response showed that just because you have the ability to say something (and say it all over the damn place), that doesn’t mean you should.

Maybe I should’ve paid more heed to my grandmother; it sure seems JetBlue did.

Let me know

What do you think? Was my grandma right? Or did JetBlue just get lucky? Or do you just want to hear more of my grandma’s sage witticisms? Let me hear it in the comments.

3 Responses

  1. Matt,

    I’m totally with you on this one. Restraint is a exhibited skill in social media today. Sometimes it seems like every Marketing and PR guy out there is trying to become the next social media superstar instead of taking time to think about strategy. Jetblue really showed how it’s done with this mini-crisis!

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