Case StudiesReputation Management

United Airlines Responds to Dave Carroll

Yesterday I wrote a post re-capping Jason Murphy’s great SEOmoz post that offered ideas to United Airlines regarding how to respond to the Internet smash United Breaks Guitars from Dave Carroll. As it illustrated, United actually has a phenomenal opportunity to show a captive audience of how they can “make things right.”

United’s response: Donate $3,000 to a nonprofit on Dave’s behalf.

My response: Really? Three grand? That’s it?

Really? Three grand. You REALLY need to be featured on SNL’s Really ?!? with Seth & Amy. You have an audience of millions awaiting your response and this is the best you can do? “Wow.” Talk about underwhelming.

You see, if this were a private issue I would call it an appropriate response. You broke a $3,500 Taylor guitar, cost Dave Carroll $1,200 in repairs plus countless hours chasing down a response. $3,000 would be absolutely appropriate if nobody else knew about it. But they do. You blew an incredible opportunity to save face here.

In fact, in just one day United Breaks Guitars jumped from the 4th to 3rd on page one of Google and added two new references to the story. It was also viewed on YouTube over 300,000 times yesterday alone. Check out the rest of a page one search for United Airlines. Half of page one is of the story. Here’s a look at a few:

United Breaks Guitars

So who are the winners and losers in all this?

Dave Carroll & The Sons of Maxwell
It’s nearly impossible to put a value on this degree of exposure for a band other than to say this is a life-changing event that will impact their lives for the better. I wonder how many other people like me just bought their album. Dave Carroll is my new personal hero. Look for them to gain a huge crossover following.

Taylor Guitars – Taylor is so brilliant. They didn’t even have anything to do with all this mess. But they’re savvy enough to know a great marketing opportunity when they see one. They set up Dave Carroll and company with sweet Taylor gear and are going to get some great mileage out of this. Talk about a low cost relative to the amount of positive exposure this will generate. Nice work, Taylor. (As a proud owner of a Taylor guitar, I can tell you their guitars are awesome.)

United Airlines – Sorry guys. You blew it. Sure, you gave a few bucks to charity and got a positive response from Dave about it. But this is a very public black eye that $3,000 won’t fix anytime soon.

SEOmoz and Jason Murphy – SEOmoz for recognizing how great Jason’s post was and promoting it to the main page and Jason for adding a new perspective regarding reputation management strategies. Thanks!

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