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  • Ryanair: How Not to Respond to Idiot Bloggers

    Recently, the air in the blogosphere has been, well, stormy to say the least. It all started when Dubliner web designer Jason Roe claimed to have discovered a bug in the booking site, which allowed customers to pay £0.00 for their flights.

    CC Image Credit: Nicola Corboy – Flickr

    Whether this works or not (and consensus is that it does not), it appears some enthusiastic Ryanair staff members took it all rather personally.

    As a provider of online reputation management services, I have to say this exemplified how not to respond to online criticism. As an avid browser of various blogs, I have to say this was one of the funniest things I have read in a long time.

    So, for those wishing to learn from the Ryanair debacle, here are the top five points I will be taking away from this.

    Ryanerror number one: Allowing self-appointed brand ambassadors

    You cannot control what your staff do online, anymore than you can control what they do in the pub, and nor should you try to.

    However, that may mean reminding some staff not to define themselves online as being your employees, because the second they do, they are ambassadors for your brand.

    It is never a good tactic for a brand ambassador to open discussions with an active blogger using the following salutation: “jason! you’re an idiot and a liar!!”

    A clause in employees’ contracts requesting they do not to anything to discredit the brand may have saved the budget airline some embarrassing coverage, although, this mess did show the Ryanair staff care… Care a lot in fact!

    Ryanerror number two: Getting personal

    Now, the staff member or members responsible for this tirade were, one would hope, not marketing staff tasked with engaging the public via social networks, so I cannot blame the airline for this.

    However, should you decide to respond to bloggers in the future, it is a good tip to stay polite and friendly, even when responding to harsh criticisms.

    As a general rule, comments such as: “what self respecting developer uses a crappy CMS such as word press anyway AND puts they’re (sic) mobile ph number online, i suppose even a prank call is better than nothing on a lonely sat evening!!” are not the way to go.

    Ryanerror number three: Failing to acknowledge criticisms

    Not everything works all the time and on occasion, there will be justifiable criticisms of you online, particularly if you are a larger brand.

    When these unfortunate instances occur, the only way to react is calmly, with a measured: “Thanks for pointing this out, we’ll look into it.”

    It is not a good idea to make excuses or engage in online battles.

    An especially bad way to deal with criticisms is Ryanair Staff #3′s slightly more pugnacious approach. “Website is not perfect, Life is not perfect…”

    It, ah, doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Ryanerror number four: Slating customers at large

    Okay, so Mister Roe criticised the website and that clearly hurt the feelings of the staff in question. I can forgive them for their pride in their work; it’s quite reassuring, really.

    However, any chance the Ryanair folk had of winning the public to their side was thrown out of the window when they used their comments to insult customers at large.

    “Offensive aggression of customers depends on customer’s ignorance, Ryanair restrictions, Ryanair policy, strictness and low prices as lower the prices are more people are travelling (sic) with bigger intellectual diversity.”

    Oh dear, Ryanair staff #3. I struggle to follow your sentence, but I don’t think you’re being complimentary about your customers.

    Ryanerror number five: Making a poor official response

    Well, the blog situation was bad. It was picked up on by the national press, it was covered by a great many bloggers and it was laughed at in at least five different countries.

    So naturally Ryanair had to make an official response. The corporation had to take the bull by the horns and directly address the issue of its staff bitching on blogs.

    The company really got behind its employees, which was admirable. The company did so by insulting the blogosphere at large, which was not.

    “Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion.
    “It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again.

    “Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel.”

    Idiot bloggers? Lunatic bloggers? The ‘blog sphere’?

    A handy tip for any newbie marketers out there – an aggressive response rarely makes a company sound professional.


    16 Responses to “Ryanair: How Not to Respond to Idiot Bloggers”

    1. ? | “Ryanair: How Not to Respond to Idiot Bloggers | SEOptimise” ( http://tinyurl.com/d7ghzr )

    2. Ryanair: How Not to Respond to Idiot Bloggers | SEOptimise: Recently, the air in the blogosphere has been, well,.. http://tinyurl.com/d7ghzr

    3. Ryanair: How Not to Respond to Idiot Bloggers: Recently, the air in the blogosphere has been, well, stormy to sa.. http://tinyurl.com/d7ghzr

    4. Ryanair: How Not to Respond to Idiot Bloggers http://tinyurl.com/d7ghzr

    5. geoff_b (geoff_b) says:

      @stuartcurran Enjoy http://is.gd/lUgu about how Ryanair responded to some blog criticism of its website. And after pay-per-poo-gate too.

    6. I only flew Ryanair once. Never again, they deserve to go out of business with their attitude.

    7. Amy Courser says:

      You forgot to mention the amount of traffic that is generated when such a conflict kicks up…I have never heard of Ryanair until today (being from Canada, eh!) but now I know aaall about them!

      Nothing viralizes faster than the corporate world making an ass out of themselves on the Internet. I offer Reputation Management Services to my clients as well and always try and persuade them that if such an issue comes up, the high road is the only road. Short, polite and try to take the conversation off line…never chum the water when skinny dipping!

    8. Your Needs a Company Blog Policy says:

      [...] Great post over at SEOptimise by Kevin Gibbons on how Ryanair staff responded to “idiot bloggers” [...]

    9. Agent SEO says:

      It’s unbelievable that these guys weren’t smarter. How a large company gets into a verbal fisticuffs with a blogger is beyond me?

      Online reputations come into question all the time, and when there is truly a problem a company that large should get all their (supposedly smart) heads together and address it appropriately.

      Instead of addressing the problem, these geniouses made themselves look foolish and made their airline look way less credible in an already tough market for air travel. Good job morons!

    10. Fabiola & Sing Sing says:

      I’m not sure Ryan Air really cares about making itself unpopular.

      They know they sell tickets by being dirt cheap, not because they behave in a caring sharing Web 2.0-style way.

      They don’t care if they look like jerks or not, they just want to get publicity. See their CEO’s recent claim that he would charge travellers who want to use the toilet on the plane for instance.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the whole reason they were so rude about the bloggers, and handled them so badly.

    11. Jamie Lupton says:

      The days of the statement ‘Any publicity is good publicity’ have long gone. Ryanair should really take note of the message and brand they are projecting to their potential customers.

      Personally I have had problems with Ryanair and find as a company they are best avoided. Their lack of interest in customer care and propensity to put their own profits above helping their customers is disgraceful. Ryanair may believe that there will be an endless list of customers waiting for their product but the snowball of bad publicity around them is growing considerably.

      Michael O’Leary should take note that at some stage in the future, his company is going to need to lose it’s arrogant and callous attitude and start to regain the trust of the general public. With so many issues, this should be an expensive manoeuvre.

      The Ryanair employees who wrote on the blog and the company’s response to the situation in general are stereotypical Ryanair behaviour. Anything they feel is a threat, they hit out to with aggression. Bloggers although somewhat fickle can be representative of national opinion and certainly are in this case.

    12. Scott Dylan says:

      Ryanair as a budget no frills airline does exactly what it says on the tin, its just a shame they don’t have any regard for there customers at all.

      Scott Dylan

    13. I don’t know what the problem is, it’s true there is a flaw but best not let everyone know otherwise no more free tickets for us!

    14. Footprints | Chris Deary says:

      [...] Ryanair: How Not to Respond to Idiot Bloggers [...]

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