RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Apr 18, 2008

Lots of people want to throw American Airlines under the AirBus for the company’s pathetic attempt at a blog last week, but I’m going to take another tack. I have 750,000 miles on American Airlines, and for the most part, they’ve served me well. So, as a loyal customer who cares about the company, let’s take a look at what’s wrong with the blog and make some recommendations on how to make it better. Perhaps other companies can learn from their mistakes.

  • Don’t wait for a customer crisis to launch a blog. The whole reason to have a blog is to make a connection with your customers BEFORE such an inevitability. To do so after the fact has a very disingenuous feel to it.
  • Don’t write in the third person. The blog is called “AA Conversation.” It’s hard to have a conversation with someone who refers to themselves as “We.” Unless you are the Queen of course.

While we can’t respond to every comment, we are listening. We will do our best to address overall issues and trends, and will respond to you in future blog posts.

  • Tell us who you are. It’s nice that you sign the posts. “Billy S.,” but Billy, who are you? Do you have a title? Do you have any authority? Or are you an intern that they pulled off the street? It’s not that you need to be a Director-level or anything, an intern may be fine! Just let me know who you are!
  • Have something to say. If you normally don’t comment on Industry Policy and events, then don’t. The following non-answer doesn’t help anyone:

We generally don’t comment on what role AMR might play, if any, in consolidation. Consolidation could benefit shareholders, customers and employees by creating a healthier industry in which airlines are better equipped to improve services, pay off debt, reinvest in their businesses and grow. But there are many challenges to consolidation, mainly labor, regulatory issues and integration, and it remains to be seen whether it will produce benefits in the airline industry. Regardless, we will continue to manage our business prudently, work to improve our performance and continue to monitor the industry landscape.

  • Focus, Focus, Focus. What do you want this blog to be? Public Policy? Customer Relations? Advertising? The problem is that you can’t be all, but unfortunately you have tried to be — IN JUST EIGHT DAYS! It might have something to do with the whole “we” multiple personality thing but just take an objective look at your site. You have three (3) posts: two (2) about the maintenance delay and one (1) wishy-washy policy “statement” And your sidebar…Good Lord its traditional marcomm drivel.

This is an official blog of American Airlines. American Airlines is the world’s largest airline. American, American Eagle and the AmericanConnection® airlines serve 250 cities in over 40 countries with more than 4,000 daily flights. American’s award-winning Web site, AA.com, provides users with easy access to check and book fares, plus personalized news, information and travel offers.

I applaud American Airlines for attempting something in New Media. Unfortunately, they could have avoided most of these issues had they just picked up a book or read a few popular blogs. But the good thing about New Media is that if you are sincere, if you are transparent, then the community will eventually come around.

So what are you gonna do American Airlines? Are you gonna stick with it? Are you going to take blogging seriously? Can you come out from behind the “We,” and drop the obsequious marcomm terminology? Are you willing to truly enter into an “AA Conversation” with me? There’s plenty of time. The question is whether or not you are going to use it wisely.

Hey, Billy S. call me! I think I can help.

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Filed under: Mini Case Studies

Comments

Ron, nice post. It is refreshing to read criticism that is constructive in its intent. You took issue with AA’s approach AND offered to help them. I hope someone takes you up on your offer.

Ken Wetherell
April 21, 2008

Ron, nice post. It is refreshing to read criticism that is constructive in its intent. You took issue with AA’s approach AND offered to help them. I hope someone takes you up on your offer.

Ken Wetherell
April 21, 2008

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