August 12, 2010

LEARN FROM JETBLUE -- LAWYERS WORK FOR THE BRAND NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND


I am so disappointed in the marketing and communications folks at JetBlue. Although I have no inside scoop, marketing pros all over the Internet are discussing the lack of response (we didn't get an official statement from JetBlue until 48 hours after veteran flight attendant Slater made his slide into the pop culture books). With such a fantastic story -- one that anyone who has traveled in the past year can understand both sides of the meltdown -- and with a brand such as JetBlue that has created a bit of a rebel persona it is the dream situation to talk about your brand, reassure prospective clients, talk to your existing clients and employees and perhaps do a little "can't we all play nicely in a really stressful sandbox?" educating for everyone. Hindsight is always 20/20 but whenever I see a brand that has really been a leader in the communication and online outreach arenas all of a sudden appear to drop the ball on responding then I can only assume it is one thing: lawyers. When did we start working for lawyers? The reality is...if lawyers continue to rule brands then not only will we see a gi-normous decrease in potential lawsuits but we will see the backs of consumers' heads as they scurry like roaches at dawn to find those few remaining brands that actually want to have a "human" connection with them. This is what I say whenever I start sensing legal-weight-down: " I understand your job is to ensure the brand/organization doesn't get sued -- but instead of trying to ensure that in a vacuum (and tie our hands, basically), you have to do that within the context of the reputation and credibility of the brand/organization. We all need to protect the brand/company reputation, perception, image for without those things we don't have a business. So here is what we need to do in order to protect the reputation, image, credibility -- and now we need you lawyers to make us as safe as possible within that context." I know it seems like a dream. Get your legal counsel engaged in the importance of a brand's reputation to the bottom line now. Then when you have a situation such as JetBlue the brand team can be the first down the slide with the legal folks right behind you holding you tightly.