Steven Slater, JetBlue and effective blogging

By Erik Arvidson

When JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater made international news after reportedly blowing up at an uncooperative airplane passenger, he seemed to many to be the real-life Peter Gibbons character from the film “Office Space.”

Gibbons and his fellow programmer colleagues, frustrated and disillusioned with TPS Reports and the corporate world in general, smash an error-ridden printer to smithereens with a baseball bat. Slater reportedly grabbed two beers, then deployed the airline’s emergency slide and made a dramatic exit on the tarmac.

On Wednesday, a post appeared on the JetBlue’s blog, Blue Tales, titled: “Sometimes the weird news is about us…”

Acknowledging that the company could not comment because the matter was still being investigated and they respected Slater’s privacy, the post closed with the following: “While this episode may feed your inner Office Space, we just want to take this space to recognize our 2,300 fantastic, awesome and professional Inflight Crewmembers for delivering the JetBlue Experience you’ve come to expect of us.”

It was well-handled, with a tone that seemed to acknowledge the inner Peter Gibbons in many workers out there while making a strong statement in support of its airline flight crews  (something many had questioned in the wake of Slater being suspended).

Three points stand out to me:

  • In this case, less was more for JetBlue. They could have said more, but I feel like this would have ruined it;
  • Conversational and authentic is nearly always the best tone of voice in a company blog post acknowledging negative publicity;
  • Instead of regurgitating company mission statements, the post used words like “weird,” and “awesome.” Simple and plainspoken, consistent with the JetBlue’s brand image.

What are your thoughts about the way JetBlue handled this controversy?