The power of social media and your employment brand
Another media frenzy started by a photograph posted on twitter… this time an Easyjet passenger appears to be punched in the face by a Nice airport worker whilst holding a 9 month old baby. We later find out that the airport worker isn’t connected to the Easyjet brand and may actually have been struck by the passenger first, but it could be argued the damage has already been done.
This news comes after the PR fiascos earlier this year by another well-known airline; this time American Airlines. Once again, social media has a key role to play as passenger videos are posted and quickly become viral. First sees a passenger violently removed from an overbooked plane. The second shows a violent clash over a baby’s pram in San Francisco.
The key differences between American Airlines and Easyjet are, for me, the speed and nature of their responses, both to the online outcry and as employers. American Airlines couldn’t have got it more wrong and the impact on their brand is clear to see. Easyjet have been quick to condemn the actions of the airport worker, and to distance themselves from the employment relationship with the individual.
But what does this mean for business in general and employers in particular? For business, it means that nothing is without scrutiny. Cameras are everywhere and videos, for the immediacy at least, do not appear to lie. Therefore what is key for your brand is how you prepare for such a crisis, and when it occurs, how you respond. Because inevitably crises will and do happen; employees are human and therefore errors will always be made.
I would argue that having a clear and robust HR stance in relation to the use of social media by employees and how their behaviour in and out of the workplace can impact on a company’s reputation is vital. The careful and sensitive use of suspension as a no blame tool to allow sufficient time to appropriately investigate and provide a public response if appropriate is another.