United Airlines suffered a blue Monday—if only the company had a blog. Let me explain.
By now you know United parent company UAL Corp.’s stock collapsed Monday, September 8, after a six-year-old article about its prior bankruptcy status somehow popped up on the Internet apparently with that day’s date.
The story quickly hit the wire and sparked a bogus rumor that United had again filed for bankruptcy. United Airlines operated under bankruptcy protection from 2002 to 2006.
In five minutes United’s stock had lost 76 percent—one billion dollars—of its value. Trading at the Nasdaq Stock Market was then suspended so United could comment. The company denied the rumor and after trading began again the stock regained most of its original price.
I say the article “somehow” appeared online, because no one wants to take responsibility. The stock’s nosedive occurred when the story hit Bloomberg news service, which reportedly got it from Income Securities Advisors, a firm that tracks struggling companies, which pulled the news from Tribune-owned The Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Everyone is pointing fingers at one another, assigning and denying blame.
If United had a blog, there is a good chance the company’s communicators could have thwarted the problem. As soon as United heard about the rumor communicators could have not only issued a statement, but blogged about it quickly.
Reporters from Income Securities Advisors or Bloomberg could have visited the blog before it sent an erroneous report across the wire. If reporters failed to do that, then United could at least post its response on a blog.
Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time social media has burned United in recent months. Last month, a Web site and blog named after United’s CEO Glenn Tilton (GlennTilton.com) launched; it wasn’t a fan site, however. Instead, the site is authored by United pilots calling for the chief executive’s resignation.
At the very least you’d think United would have learned to get in the social media game, and do it quickly. Reminds me of that old President Bush saying, “Fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again.”