2 Ways Aer Lingus Newsjacked Its Brand to Great Heights Following the WOW Air Fiasco
Brands with content marketing plans have newsjacked before. But perhaps not as quickly and as well as Aer Lingus did with its reduced-cost fares offered to stranded WOW air passengers, who were bereft of flights after the airline shut down on Thursday.
The Irish airline nailed timeliness and relevancy in its content marketing efforts by offering reduced-fare options to at least 1,000 passengers who were grounded on Thursday alone. The bargain tickets continued to be offered on Friday, creating winning brand awareness and PR for Aer Lingus, because it’s now seen as the hero to stranded travelers. The same day as the “wow” heard around the world meant bargain-hunters weren’t winging their way toward their destinations aboard WOW aircraft, Aer Lingus stepped up with the second “wow.”
Special fares are available to anyone affected by the news from #WOWair today. If you booked with WOW and you need an alternative flight, please call. We'll do our best to help.
🇮🇪 1890 800600
🇪🇺 +353 1886 8822
🇬🇧 0333 006 6920
🇺🇸 516 622 4222
🇨🇦 800 474 7424
— Aer Lingus (@AerLingus) March 28, 2019
@AerLingus is telling passengers it will offer the reduced-price fares for WOW air ticket holders who had flights booked between now and April 11.
The WOW air site says other airlines may be offering lower fares, too.
But the Aer Lingus offer was all over Twitter and earned media within a day.
Here’s what Aer Lingus got right about what marketing guru David Meerman Scott coined “newsjacking”:
Aer Lingus got its marketing ready and out within hours of WOW air’s demise. When one air lock closed, Aer Lingus opened up its offer to the public.
“Be timely. Often, the web gets saturated with social media mentions and blog posts in a few hours. ‘The sooner you post about it, the better,’ [Joshua Titsworth] suggests. [Editor's Note: An endless approval process is a bad idea for timeliness. So if that's a normal situation, setting up a ‘breaking news’ alternative process may help for news items that are especially relevant to the organization.]”
WOW air dying is still news. The Aer Lingus marketing then became news by responding directly to the news-making issue — stranded passengers.
This also ties back to my 2014 piece:
"While a major news story may seem like a 'big fish' with which you can easily draw attention, turn your focus only to those pieces most significant to your brand," Titsworth advises. "This may not gain you quick 'fame,' but it will establish long-term credibility over time."
What Aer Lingus Didn’t Do, and Why That’s Good
So there’s another bit of advice about newsjacking that would’ve just created bad vibes in this situation: writing blog posts.
On Friday, Aer Lingus didn’t even have its reduced fares for WOW air travelers on its home page. That’s a sign that the brand knows the situation isn’t ultimately about Aer Lingus, and that’s good. When the public sees marketers trying to spin a news story into being about the brand instead of about, in this case, the stranded passengers, it loses credibility.
Blog posts and other forms of marketing that are supposed to last past the news cycle should be about longer-term brand goals.
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.