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How not to do blogger outreach by Ryanair

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 23rd February 2009

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In these hard, harsh times we find ourselves in, any attempt to secure a basement bargain is fair gain. So imagine the glee when blogger Jason – Roe (dot) com came across a tiny little fault on Ryanair.com that allowed him (and many some other people) to grab a totally free flight (no taxes or anything…nada!).

So, of course, being the honest blogger he is, Jason – Roe decides to tell the world and promptly pens a post telling one and all the secret he has discovered.

Ryanair, being the conscientious company they are (with an undoubtedly big social media monitoring team), identified that something was amiss and came across the offending article.

Having taken everything into account, commenter #10 – Ryanair staff #1 – proclaims in their best blogger-outreach-facing voice:

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!!

Now, I hear what you’re saying: ‘surely this isn’t really a Ryanair member of staff?’. Well, our friends over at Travolution (who alerted us to this escapade via their own blog post) have been undertaking some sleuth detective work and traced the offending IP address right back to Ryanair-towers…

Oops

The fiasco gets worse and worse (read in its full glory here) with a veritable war of words continuing down the comment page. At one point, Ryanair staff #3 defends their words stating:

Defensive aggression of Ryanair stuff is less than offensive aggression of customers and each stuff member gains this gradually.
Offensive aggression of customers depends on customer’s ignorance, Ryanair restrictions, Ryanair policy, strictness and low prices as lower the prices are more people are traveling with bigger intellectual diversity.

“bigger intellectual diversity” eh?

I can only assume/hope/pray that these comments weren’t made by the customer service/PR/new media/marketing team but by a disgruntled techy on his/her last day on the job. But, even if this is not legit, even if it is not a Ryanair employee, Ryanair has still not responded. And now other bloggers (like yours truly) are wading in and widening the echo chamber.

A few points to learn from this debacle:

  1. This really isn’t the best way to talk to anyone publicly
  2. Especially online
  3. Especially a blogger
  4. Blogger outreach takes thought, time and care as does damage control
  5. By escalating the situation, you merely invite more people to jump on the bandwagon (see the other comments!)

Having published this post, I am looking forward to a visitation from Ryanair Staff #4 below…

picture credit

UPDATE: via Econsultancy, we discover that Matt Mullenweg from WordPress has now blogged about the anti-WP comments Ryanair staff made: this one could run and run. As Chris Lake says, let’s hope this is a viral marketing idea….