1) In reviewing this case a s a public relations practitioner, identify the legal and ethical dilemmas that Jet Blue faced in seeking to maintain relationships with key publics.
In dealing with the Steven Slater case, Jet Blue had a very difficult line to toe. On one hand, it needed to be able to demonstrate that it had a staff of highly trained, professional staff on its payroll. On the other hand, Slater's insubordination and rebellion captured the imaginations of jet Blue's client base; it could not simply condemn Slater's actions without seeming a poor sport in the eye of the public. It also had a legal obligation to admonish Slater's actions, or at least tell the public that these situations fell outside the norm of the Jet Blue experience; to do otherwise would sacrifice their reputation for quality customer service.
2) Do you think that JetBlue chose the right legal responses to the incident? Why or why not?
I believe that Jet Blue chose the correct legal response to the Slater incident in removing him from duty. Instead of taking any sort of retaliatory action, Jet Blue instead rightfully removed Slater from duty due to insubordinate action. By foregoing a lawsuit against Slater or any other sort of action, merely severing their relationship allowed the company to prevent a major public relations incident, and seeming like even more of a bad guy.
3) Do you think that JetBlue chose the right ethical responses to the incident? Why or why not?
Jet Blue made plenty of missteps in its ethical treatment of the incident, however. By remaining silent on the Slater issue, Jet Blue appeared weak in front of the public. Also, their blame quickly turned to the opponents of Jet Blue or those who have "formed opinions" on their company through the Slater incident through a snide comment on the Internet. Furthermore, the real ethics problems (insubordinate staff, the difficulties and stresses of flying) were not openly addressed by Jet Blue, which should have been mentioned or taken into consideration .
4) What other ethical advice would you give to JetBlue to protect its reputation?
In order to make Jet Blue seem like a company that cares about both its staff and its customers, I believe efforts should be made to address some of the common concerns that passengers have when flying. The root of Slater's problem, and the importance of his gesture, was a finger in the face to obnoxious passengers and the stresses of flying. If Jet Blue took measures to make flying easier or less stressful (a nearly impossible task, but even the announcement of initiatives for more space or amenities on planes, etc., would help), I believe that Jet Blue would be seen to take Slater, the people's champion in this incident, at his word, and take him seriously. This would also make the people happy, and feel as though they scored a victory for the little guy while at the same time improving their own flight experience.
1) Were the communication tools used by Pepsi to solve the problems the ones you would use today?
Given that Pepsi's damage control strategy for the syringe incident was so successful, I would likely use a very similar strategy to theirs (releasing videos letting the consumer into the process of making the product to show the lengths they go through to make it safe). However, given the prevalence of the Internet and the explosion of streaming video and social media that has happened in the 15 years since this incident, I would incorporate social media tools much more ardently than they were able to. On Pepsi's official Facebook and Twitter pages, I would provide additional press releases and posts showing our dedication to solving the problem. VNRs and promotional films showing the canmaking process would be streamed from official Youtube channels in addition to the VNRs given to news networks.
2) Evaluate the role of the VNRs. Are they always effective?
In this case, the VNRs were used extremely well to alleviate customers' fears and to eliminate suspicion that Pepsi used unethical or unsafe business practices in the creation of their product. When used well, VNRs are a very good means of conveying a message to the public in a dynamic way. However, there can be some downsides - poor timing could lead to a distrust of the story being given. Pepsi did well to wait until a suspect was caught to release that third VNR, lest they be suspected of manufacturing or shifting blame. Also, there can be an inherent distrust of VNRs, as they come from the vary source that is being targeted or placed under suspicion - it would be far too easy to write off a VNR as a desperate PR gamble to generate sympathy and lie about their complicity.