The truth about bad publicity

Having been forced to watch a TV programme about the battle of the low-cost airlines this week (my husband wouldn’t surrender the remote), I was subjected to some of Ryan Air CEO Michael O’Leary’s outdated views on PR.

Source: theguardian.com

Source: theguardian.com

The old ‘all publicity is good publicity’ view seems to be alive and well inside Ryan Air HQ, standing completely in contrast to the CIPR’s current definition of PR as a way to protect a business rather than just promote it:

Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.

One particular example which stood out for me was Michael O’Leary’s attempt to retract one competition winner’s ‘free flights for life’ because he claimed no official paperwork had ever existed. After a court battle which Ryan Air lost, one employee admitted that the court case was the major turning point when people started to realise how little the airline actually valued its customers.

So, if PR is all about reputation, grabbing headlines regardless of whether they are good or bad simply cannot be the right approach. But if it’s plain and simple publicity that you’re after – and you’re not afraid of what damage it might do to your reputation – you can always rely on the Ryan Air play book for a bit of inspiration.