The bear emerges

Just when you think all is quiet and the markets are void of volatility the bear rears and roars Grrrr. The Veep survives assasination, the Iranians inch toward the nuclear option, Iraq continues on its road to armageddon, the Arabs and Israelis … don’t get us started … and then market in China takes a dive. Did the Dow actually lose a couple hundred points in a minute? I kept staring at my computer screen like it was a typo. Nothing like the bottom dropping out of the market to remind us that we live on shaky ground. The markets giveth and the markets taketh.

The Australian market dropped more than 3%. In London overnight, BHP Billiton – a big supplier of minerals to China – plunged 6 per cent. This is the correction we’ve all been waiting for. I think now that the bear let us know he’s still around and has a mighty roar he may retreat for the rest of the winter. Let’s see how Wall Street shrugs this off.

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Pardon our digital dust …

wordclouf prblognews blogs public relations PR jobsIt’s dangerous to start messin with your blog. You never know where it will end up. A widget here, a plug in there, you mess with the font, the color, the theme and before you know it you have this …. not only that, it’s snowing in New York. Really snowing.

So pardon us for a few days as we try to pull together the new PRBlogNews and experiment with the new WordPress 2.1.1.  Widgets come and widgets go … go read Strumpette.  Mix it up. That’s where the action is. We’ll be back and running soon.

Uncontrollable Irregularity Feeds jetBlue Blog Woes

jetBlue Uncontrollable IrregularityTwo days ago I posted about the odd two words that jump out in the much heralded new jetBlue Bill of Rights. Money will be given to passengers for delays due to a … Controllable Irregularity. It is comforting to see that a host of other bloggers, many of them hardcore travelers, are just as dumfounded. What the @#*! is a controllable irregularity, asks one.

Judging the google blog search on Controllable Irregularity (why does jetBlue capitalize it when there is no definition offered?) this issue may not disappear soon. The Cranky Flier has a great post called ”Controllable Irregularities Might Require Pepto Bismol.” The Cranky Flier called jetBlue media relations for a clarifiction of Controllable Irregularity. The response was, essentially, that it is what it is. Go figure.

The blog “Musings of a Global Traveller,” likens the Controllable Irregularity to mean whatever you want at at a given moment, sort of a Through the Looking Glass method of forgiveness.

So, where are the lawyers on this? What exactly does Controllable Irregularity mean (weather? flight control?) and is this a case of two words sabotaging all the good words that precede and follow? Will jetBlue face a real PR challenge when cranky fliers and global travellers challenge that meaning? Let us not forget that the blogosphere is a 24 hour a day uncontrollable irregularity.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone. “It means just what I choose it to mean – neither more or less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

JetBlue Rules … but read the fine print

JetBlue customer Bill of Rights

The jetBlue horror story of travelers interminably stuck in planes as cancelled flights stacked up due to ice storms, has become legend. Many other airlines face the same difficulties due to weather emergencies but the focus was intensely on JetBlue this time for two reasons:

1) JetBlue has a stong compact with its Customers (capital “C”) and is supposed to be different. 2) the real problem was communication – leaving travelers stranded and confused with little or no warning.

Well, in a swift turnaround that will undoubtedly deeply impact the airline business and serve as a case study in rapid response PR, JetBlue has turned obstacle into opportunity with a signature Customer Bill of Rights and impressive action to back it up. The reality of Congressional action also undoutedly prompted the airline to take the initiative.

In a halting speech, obviously sincere and down-to-earth, jetBlue founder and CEO David Neeleman delivers a YouTube video “Our promise to you” that has so far received over 40,000 views and 119 comments. I would have trained Neelman to be smoother and more precise in his delivery but his intent was unmistakable: contrite, apologetic, touching. He betrayed a trust, and he knows it.

It is prominent on the home page of the jetBlue web site - links to the Customer Bill of Rights, the video, an apology, an invitation to communicate, how much cash you get in the event of cancellations, departure delays, overbookings. A key point – not once in all the communication is the weather or any outside force blamed. jetBlue takes full responsibility. 

How did Wall Street react to the masterful jetBlue PR moves.? The stock quote says it all: JBLU: $13.19  +0.29 +2.25%

What about the fine print? All refunds outlined by jetBlue are in the event of a “Controllable Irregularity.” I was unable to find a definition of this in all their communication. Is weather a controllable irregularity? Instructions from flight control? Can any legal types, or those familiar with the airline industry, shed light on this? Will the “controllable irregularity” clause come back to haunt jetBlue?

THE APOLOGY: “You deserved better – a lot better – from us last week and we let you down. Nothing is more important than regaining your trust and all of us here hope you will give us the opportunity to once again welcome you onboard and provide you the positive JetBlue Experience you have come to expect from us.” Sincerely, David Neeleman, Founder and CEO, jetBlue

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