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12th August 2019

EasyJet’s new backless seats

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£5 upgrade to get a seat with a back! Not really.

I have no idea if this picture shared on Twitter which purportedly shows a woman assigned a seat without a back on an EasyJet flight is real, fake or, more likely, partly true (e.g. the seat was damaged, but no one was assigned to sit in it), but that doesn’t really matter.

In the world of social media (and beyond), most people don’t wait to find out if what they’re reading is true, they just get excited/angry/sad/enraged about it. Afterall, people love an excuse to be outraged! It seems that outrage makes people feel good about themselves – a reality that crisis communicators need to be aware of.

EasyJet’s initial response didn’t really help by asking that the photograph be removed. This response played right into the narrative of a company trying to cover something up. It was a good thought, but probably not the right approach in this case.

The original tweet has tens of thousands of likes and retweets, even though the poster has just 910 followers (many of which he likely acquired since posting what is by far his most popular tweet). Anyone can now be an influencer!

Whatever the veracity of the story, it was too good to ignore, and the journalists piled in with many of them looking to fact check the claims (as journalists usually do and should do) and talk to the poster.

Following the journalists were those who don’t have the most respect for journalist (or at least not for journalists from some publications).

While the animosity towards journalists in our current political climate is somewhat understandable, it is very regrettable and hugely unfair.

The multitude of responses makes for an entertaining read, but it is also rather sobering for two reasons.

  1. Most people appear to assume that the initial claim is absolutely true. Which it may be, but I, and very few of the other posters, have any way of knowing this. A little scepticism would go a long way!
  2. More troubling, is the rudeness and animosity directed at the journalists involved. As with any profession there are some bad apple journalists, but most journalists are hardworking and dedicated to their trade and to finding as much truth for their story as they can. Sometimes journalists get things wrong, but then who doesn’t? The only difference is that because of the nature of what journalists do, we’re all more likely to see their mistakes. The overwhelming majority of journalists deserve our respect and appreciation (even if they do sometime make my life as a crisis communicator difficult – that’s their job).

The situation here is largely light-hearted and little harm to people or reputations was done, but it goes to show just what can happen on social media!

 

Dustin Eno

COO and Crisis Reponse Manager

T: +44 (0)20 3326 8467
E: dustin.eno@navigateresponse.com

Twitter: @dustineno

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