Delta Military Kerfuffle

I was reading Ragan’s post on Delta’s response to the YouTube video recently posted about charging soldiers for a 4th bag and got to thinking about their updated blog response.  Of course this too shall pass and there will be another social media crisis management case study shortly but I wanted to capture my thoughts for posterity.  Brand managers have it tough – please don’t misconstrue as complaining 🙂 – they have to appease internal and external clients and that is a tough spot to be in.  You have to find the balance between corporate and consumers and that is no cake walk.

Putting myself in Rachel’s shoes (b/c of course hindsight is a virtue) I would have pushed PR to re-frame the updated blog post to reflect that the feedback shared by the commenters was heard.  Something to the effect of “Your feedback was very candid and as we read each comment, we felt the passion behind each output.  The fact that you took the time to respond to us has led us to make a change regarding our policy.  While it was tough for us to read we knew that the right thing to do was revise it.  Our original policy was based on x,y,z however given recent changes within our industry…”  I think something like that would have been genuinely appreciated by the audience.  This is not to say that I think Delta just ignored what was being said.  It has been my experience when someone takes a shot at your brand you can’t help but feel it in your gut, it’s like a sucker punch.  And as a brand manager invested in your brand your brain starts whirling: how did it get to this point?  Is this true?  How do we let them know that we do care about what they’re saying when they’re so angry?  How do we push for change?

When an audience is passionate about a subject the brand needs to acknowledge it.  When brands are in the thick of a crisis it’s sometimes difficult to be objective because sometimes the only lens that’s visible is the reputational impact. It’s a learning phase for all brands in being this transparent with consumers and it carries inherent risks.  Sometimes you can’t win for trying but I was so glad to see an immediate response from Delta.

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