Twitter Turbulence Rocks Airline

US Airways Twitter

The job description of a social media manager for a company consists of managing social media outlets representing the company in a positive way — or so you think.  In mid April, US Airways tweeted an obscene image on their Twitter feed while responding to a customer complaint.

US Airways said they began an investigation as to how this tweet could have happened. A tweet they call a mistake. A company spokesperson later apologized and gave an explanation for the graphic tweet and US Airways issued an apology via Twitter.

US Airways apology tweet

The tweet was deleted, but the damage had been done. The tweet was shared and spread like wildfire.  Let the inappropriate replies and puns begin! Search #USAirways on Twitter at your own risk, the Los Angeles Times included Twitter comments regarding the embarrassing mistake in their article, and below are responses on the US Airways site.

US Airways responses

US Airways announced the next day that they would not fire the person responsible for the tweet because “they made an honest mistake,” an airline spokesman said according to The Washington Post.  But according to the article, the company will review their social media process to avoid this mistake in the future.

Mashable, an online news source, agrees with the airline’s decision stating, “He or she made a mistake. That doesn’t equate to doing a bad job overall,” adding, “sometimes it happens to the best of us.

American Airlines

US Airways is not the only airline that’s had trouble this week.  American Airlines, who merged with US Airways, had trouble of its own. A 14-year-old girl from the Netherlands sent American Airlines a tweet that was considered a national security threat. The airline response, compared to the pornographic incident, was quick and notification to authorities immediate.

This merger has made them the largest airline company and it looks like they’re not off to a good start. One, they do not have a consistent spokesperson. Between the threat hoax and the pornographic tweet were three spokespeople.

In the explicit tweet incident, depending on the news site you visit, it mentions one spokesperson, but another person is mentioned in a different news site. One site says it’s a US Airways spokesperson and the other labels the same person as an American Airlines spokesperson.

In public relations we learn that one consistent message should be shared by one person, yet different statements are being issued by different people. In a profession where every press release, upload, post and comment is scrutinized, checked and double checked, how did this mistake happen?

How do you think this situation should have been handled? Do you agree with their decision not to fire their social media manager?

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