Rebranding Malaysia Airlines starts here

It has been scientifically proven that almost everyone remembers negative events more clearly than positive ones. Apparently it is something to do with spending more time processing negative information more thoroughly than positive information.

This probably explains why most of the mass media and consumer generated content about Malaysia Airlines is negative.

Of course its disjointed and poorly thought out marketing tactics and privatization programme aren’t helping but you can read about that here.

When a firm experiences a run of bad luck, it needs to be on top of its game when it comes to engaging consumers and restoring confidence in its ability. It also needs a bit of luck and that luck can appear in many different ways.

Yesterday Malaysia Airlines flight MH2 from Kuala Lumpur was carrying the irrepressible London Mayor Boris Johnson who had been working his magic on a trade trip in the region. During the flight a passenger described by one of Mr Johnson’s staff as being ‘off his head’ got abusive and had to be restrained by the MAS staff, with a little help from Boris.

MAS crew perform admirably in difficult situation
MAS crew perform admirably in difficult situation

Police met the plane in London and the passenger was taken away and later charged. When asked about the Malaysia Airlines crew, the Mayor’s staff had nothing but praise. Eileen Burbidge travelling with Mr Johnson said, “so impressed w/MH2 cabin crew (Kuala Lumpur-LHR); amazing professionalism/handling of passenger who was off his head.”

This small but significant event is a great opportunity to start the process of rebuilding the MAS reputation. It isn’t enough to salvage the airline’s reputation but it is a good place to start.

Here are six things the airline must do immediately to get the most out of this good news story:

1) Write a number of stories about the event from different angles. Include interviews with the cabin crew, other passengers and of course Mr Johnson. Share the articles across multiple platforms.
2) Meanwhile share the mainstream press stories across social media and encourage others to also share them.
3) Share the video of the event across all channels.
4) Get cabin crew involved on TV chat shows to talk about their lives with MAS, the event and other events and how they deal with them.
5) Hold informal internal coffee mornings for other staff to interact with the crew and learn from them and build morale.
6) Monitor social media discussions about the event and contribute to those discussions. Also comment on discussions and articles and follow up with responses to those comments, even if they are negative. Not from a corporate perspective but from a human one.

The rejuvenation of the MAS brand and its reputation will take more than privatization, a new name, renegotiated supplier contracts and redundancies.

The airline must restore consumer confidence in its ability to offer a professional, competent, efficient and effective service. The performance of the staff in this potentially explosive situation is the first step in that process and it must be leveraged effectively and organically to maximum effect.


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