Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Airline use of social media during the Icelandic volcano eruption

It seems like every time I'm scheduled to discuss the role of social media in crisis communication some major crisis comes along -- usually just in time for class. This semester was no exception. The global disruption in air travel caused by the eruption of a volcano in Iceland created an interesting case for us to examine in class today. What I like about this case study is that it deals with a different type of crisis than the ones we normally look at in our PR classes: a crisis that wasn't directly or indirectly caused by an organization. The fact that it affected not just one airline but an entire industry also allowed for an interesting comparative analysis of the various airlines' crisis responses.

I split my class into teams and had each team examine a different airline's social media use. We then compared notes and gave each airline a grade on its crisis response. In case you're curious, the highest grades went to KLM and Lufthansa (both received As for their use of social media during this crisis). KLM is even rebooking passengers through Twitter!

Here are the notes from today's class:

Update: Also check out this excellent post by Thorsten Ulmer comparing several German airlines and their use of Twitter during this crisis (in German).