Top notch PR from Ryanair: lunatic, idiot bloggers

In an angry outburst from Ryanair spokesperson Stephen McNamara the budget airline has hit out at the blogging community and stated it is not part of their company policy to engage with “idiot bloggers”.

The outburst comes after a blogger claimed to have found a bug in the Ryanair system which produced a final statement in the booking of £0.00 for flights.  In coming across the article a disgruntled Ryanair employee labelled the blogger an idiot and a liar for his post, picking holes in his methods and questioning his ability and skills as a developer.  your can read the original article here, the full response from the confirmed Ryanair employee was:

“jason!
you’re an idiot and a liar!! fact is!
you’ve opened one session then another and requested a page meant for a different session, you are so stupid you dont even know how you did it! you dont get a free flight, there is no dynamic data to render which is prob why you got 0.00. what self respecting developer uses a crappy CMS such as word press anyway AND puts they’re mobile ph number online, i suppose even a prank call is better than nothing on a lonely sat evening!!”

In the second article on Travolution Ryanair confirms the comment was from one of their employees but states their intention to leave the blogosphere to “lunatic bloggers” and concentrate on “driving down the cost of air travel”.

Great PR work guys!  OK, so your are probably disgruntled someone found a bug in your system and it got a bit of exposure, but is this really the best response?  Surely less damage would have been done by holding your hands up, admitting an error (or not if you don’t believe there to be one) and fixing it.

You clearly dont value the blogging community as a medium, thats fine, but is there any need for such an outburst which is only going to make matter worse?  im sure there are hundreds of bloggers out there right now doing the same as me and writing about this incident.  Through this statement Ryanair have succesfully turned a mild issue of one rogue employee, into a much larger issue worsening the perception of their business.

Well done Ryanair!

Social Community puts Branson in a Pickle

The social and viral nature of the modern day Internet has made one of the richest businessmen in the world to personally call a complainant to his company. A written complaint to Virgin airlines from a disgruntled passenger has picked up so much traction across web via email and bloggers that Richard Branson himself has called the individual to apologies for the service they received.

The complaint letter itself was addressed to Mr Branson and constantly addressed him as Richard throughout though I doubt the writer is the first to do this. The main reason it was picked up by the blogging community was the humour it contained and the way in which it was written. I personally laughed out loud at reading some of the points and the way the writer put them across and it made me want to share the letter with others. It was this reaction which has caused it to be such a viral success and make people want to pass it on.

So I am going to join the blogging ranks who are spreading this letter and post it here for you all to see, enjoy!

Dear Mr Branson

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008

I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.

Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at the hands of your corporation.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it:

virgin flight complaint viral

I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?

You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in:

virgin social media flight complaint letter

I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn’t custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.

Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.

I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.

Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this:

virgin complaint letter viral social media

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.

Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.

By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation:

virgin flights social viral marketing

It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.

I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.

Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on:

virgin-flight-complaint

I apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel:

social media for virgin flights complaint

Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.

My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations:

virgin-flight-complaint-viral internet

Yes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff.

Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.

So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.

As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it’s knees and begging for sustenance.

Yours Sincererly…

Twitter – success of failure in 2009?

Much has been said about 2009 being the year for twitter.  After receiving mainstream coverage very early in the year through the Daily Mail and an appearance on the Jonathon “@wossy” Ross show this week many are predicting massive growth for the micro blogging platform in 2009.  In order to look at both sides of the story I thought I would put some thoughts into the arguments for and against twitter becoming the next big social media phenomenon.

Why twitter might be the next big thing?

•    It helps like-minded people connect - Connecting with people who share the same interests of you can be fun, but finding these people is not always easy.  Twitter helps bring together people from all over the world who have shared interests and lets them engage with one another.
•    It is easy to get involved - Pick a username, populate your profile, choose some people to follow, and you’re away.  The simplicity of twitter is part of its beauty.
•    It’s easily accessible on the move - Despite major advances in mobile internet, complex sites still struggle from a usability perspective.  Twitter is as easy on a mobile handset as it is on a computer screen.
•    It becomes addictive - Updating your twitter can become addictive, as can following others.  This could keep people coming back for more and take it past the “fad” stage.
•    You can customise twitter - Many MySpacer’s prefer MySpace to Facebook as it allows personalisation of your page to give it character.  The same can be done with twitter skins.
•  It allows people to sharePeople like to share information both about their own life and about the world in general.  Twitter allows the same photo sharing opportunities as Facebook (through twitpic) as well as the ability to post links to external sources of information for your followers to see.
•    People like to be nosy - Being able to take a peak into other people’s lives brings out the voyeur in us all.  Some people spend hours looking through other peoples photographs on Facebook and enjoying reading their status updates, twitter has the same appeal.
•    It is not as time consuming as blogging - Maintaining a blog is time consuming but twitter allows you to post industry or personal news without any maintenance at all.
•    It provides instant access to news and articles - We have seen recently the success of twitter in bringing breaking news to the masses in the case of the Mumbai attacks and the Hudson River plane crash.  By following a broad spectrum of tweeters it is possible to get the news, as it happens, rather than after the event.

Why twitter might not succeed

•    People won’t get it – many people I speak to who are aware of twitter don’t get the attraction, and a lot of these people are already involved in digital marketing.  So what are the chances of the average Joe picking it up as part of his everyday life?
•    Who wants to connect with people they don’t know? – people away from business and the world of “networking” prefer to connect with people they know, and have met on more than one occasion.
•    Safety/privacy worries? – Whilst it might be a pessimistic and cynical view on the world, is there safety/privacy worry about allowing people you don’t know to follow your daily life?  I’m sure there is many a parent out there who wouldn’t be too pleased if their child had people keeping an eye on their life, potentially with sinister motives.
•    Twitter’s creaking infrastructure! – in recent weeks twitter has experienced regular periods of downtime as its user numbers increase and put mounting pressure on their infrastructure.  If their growth is going to continue, some investment is needed in their infrastructure, which may mean external funding to raise the cash.  Without this, people will become frustrated and potential give up on twitter.
•    It needs monetising – As we have seen with Facebook and YouTube, large user numbers are great, but if you can’t effectively monetise this traffic it isn’t worth much.  Initially CPM advertising will probably suffice, but twitter will need to move past that if they are going to effectively monetise their user base.
•    Businesses will struggle to find ways to utilise it – although it is easy to see how twitter can be used by news sources for additional distribution and traffic generation, other businesses may struggle to see a use for it.  If twitter can find a way of accommodating businesses away from standard accounts this could be key for its success, as it is these businesses that will be willing to pay to reach twitter’s user base.

So what do you think?  Will twitter be the big success story of 2009?  Have I missed anything from this list?  Let me know what you think.

The Digital Community Shows it Charitable Side

The blogging and digital community has shown its charitable side and raised over $10,000 to help an Abused wife and her children.

Blogger David Armano started the appeal on his blog, Logic + Emotion, for Romanian immigrant, Daniela and her 3 children who are struggling financially since Daniela filed for divorce against her abusive spouse.  At present Daniela, Brandon, Daniela and youngest Evelyn are staying with David as they try to get back on their feet and he appealed to the blogging and digital community to help raise $5000 dollars to support them.  At last check they had raised $12,663.60 and rising well in excess of its target.

David used the popularity of his blog and also his connections on social media tool twitter to raise awareness of the appeal and it has spread like wildfire around the social media community.  I found out about it through a tweet by someone I follow on twitter and the amount of retweets I have seen already is obscene.  The twitter community has taken hol of this story and is showing that even in the hardest economic times people are willing to show their charitable side and help the needy.

The Digital Lookout has made its donation, if you would like to contribute follow the link below.  Do your bit, and pass the message on.

Daniella’s Apartment Fund

If You Don’t Have anything Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything At All!

That’s what my mum used to tell me when I was little.  Whenever myself or one of my siblings would criticise each other, or anyone else for that matter, this would be the response.

But here I relate this comment, not to sibling rivalry, or petty disputes, but to the world of social media and blogging.  I have been thinking about this for a while but it was a post by new media lisa which made me realise that others felt the same and how widespread the practice was!

If you have something to say, something useful which will benefit others, then say it, if you don’t, keep your gob shut and just listen!

I have been guilty in the early days of my blog, of rushing to release a news story in the hope of being the first, without adding anything of value to the discussion.  These days I try to stop and think about whether I am adding anything of interest to the debate or just regurgitating a story, if the latter, then don’t bother.  Sit back, let the news story unfold and wait for a more interesting post to come to mind.

Similarly with micro-blogging tool twitter.  I’m at the point now when I am going to stop following some people who tweet every 10 mins with some useful gumf that is of no interest.  If you have found a good news story, fine, got a new blog post, ok, even taken a good picture or commenting on the weather, acceptable, but please don’t give me a minute by minute commentary on your day, I don’t care that much!

I tend to tweet maybe once or twice a day when I have something to say, the rest of the time I am busy doing real work!

So there you have it, as new media lisa says, be extraordinary, and as I say, keep it shut unless you have something to say!

Co-incidently, the digital lookout is now on twitter! So if you want an update each time a new post is made, then you can follow me.  I promise only to post when I have something to say!