Thursday, November 23, 2006

Honesty - not the PR strong point

I got a press release from Maxjet - the low cost transatlantic business airline this morning telling me they'd appointed a new CEO and Chairman - I looked at their website and was greeted by a message from Gary Rogliano who has, apparently, 'left the company to pursue other interests'.

Well, he must have left suddenly, since as of five minutes ago, his face was still smiling out of the welcoming message on the site.

So, was he pushed or did he jump?

I emailed the PR at BGP in London and asked her.

She replied word for word with what the press release said.

Now, it doesn't take a genius to work out that there's something wrong in the airline for them to suddenly change leaders. Either he has quit or he's been given the push.

By saying neither, Maxjet is merely fuelling the speculation about what's going wrong in their operation. Are they struggling to get numbers onto their flights? Is their route expansion failing? Are they about to be taken over? Is the business about to fold? Is the new competition driving them out of the market?

All of these questions come to mind for me - and I'm not a specialist airline journalist.

So, what have we got here? An airline that doesn't take advice from its PR company, or a PR company giving bad advice.

When there's a change at the top - even if it's a sudden coup, give the industry, journalists and the public some respect for our intelligence and don't fob us off with useless euphemisms. They tend only to create a vacuum into which people will pour all sorts of rumour that's far more difficult to deal with than being proactive around the truth.

Maxjet may well have great reasons for acting as it has done. But being elusive with the facts and leaving the PR agency to hold that line is an own goal and may very well turn a corporate molehill into Vesuvius.

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