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Crisis PR: Hemus highlights improvement in social media use amidst travel chaos

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By The Drum Team | Editorial

December 21, 2010 | 3 min read

Crisis PR expert Jonathan Hemus has said that while travelers struggle to get to their destinations across the UK, he can see an improvement in the use of social media within the communications being implemented by the travel companies to inform this year.

Having worked through similar treacherous winter weather last year, travel companies have had the opportunity in recent weeks to prove that they have learned from mistakes made last winter in keeping their customers informed as they await news.

Hemus said that he had witnessed a ‘significant improvement’ in the use of social media by travel companies in recent weeks, in comparison with their use of the platforms available last year.

“12 months ago a number of organisations were either not using their Twitter or they were only using it for sales and marketing purposes. Now the vast majority of the organisations we are talking about are using it for communicating.”

He continued: “They are sending information out, but they are also listening and responding to comments coming in from people who are affected. One key area where I can see lessons being taken on board is on the social media front but it’s important that we don’t rely on social media because that interaction, that communication on the front line, for those who are most directly impacted it’s just critical.”

Hemus added that organisations such as BA, BAA and travel operators must ensure that they keep communications coming, and that the most important people would be those working ‘on the front line’ within airports and stations.

“A good example of the frontline and the centre working is the Quantas incident where the engine blew up. In that situation, the chief executive has communicated very quickly and effectively at a corporate level, but I was also reading last week that the captain of the airliner involved spent two hours talking to the passengers on that plane, gave them his mobile number and said ‘if any of you have any concerns or worries then please phone me personally. ’ That is a brilliant example of not only the corporate communication working well, but also the communications of the front line working well.”

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