So, what should Air France do now?

But first, if you are clueless, your question would be, ‘But what did Air France do?’

Answer… here, in Jay Shah’s beautifully written blog post. The better such missives are written – with wit, sarcasm and thought, the more the chances of such things going viral, I’d assume. Air France has written to him and he has responded to the response too!

Now, after you gone through the problem, what do you think should Air France do now? A public apology? A print advertisement explaining their stand? A TVC that tells the world how great Air France is? A cat meme with Air France logo in it? Signing up Justin Bieber as their brand ambassador?

From a communications point of view, here’s my take. I’d love to hear what you think… and if you disagree, what is your suggestion to Air France?

Air-FranceIn this particular case, I would not recommend Air France to do a public apology at all. That means it is making a show – for the sake the world that is planning to shun its services – however honest and heartfelt it sounds.

It says, ‘Hey people who got the stick from us… AND hey the world who is outraging over that blog post and dropping Air France from your consideration list… we’re sorry…’.

Instead, I’d ask Air France to privately reach out to every single passenger who is/has been aggrieved and apologise to them individually. Show all their regret and honesty to individual people – a finite set, I understand, so not technically impossible. Tell them what you plan to do to treat people better in the future.

Air France then would have at least some of them taking to social media to talk about that private apology – it may or may not happen (depending on the content of the apology), but if it does, as Air France, I’d highlight that in my social properties as feedback after the private apology (heartfelt, honest, meaningful and all that – a given). This is the most meaningful and credible PR that I can gain around the issue.

If nobody responds or shares the experience of Air France’s private apology, only then, I’d go on social media to explain what I did and why I did it. And use that to gain some mileage to tell the world of the good work I have done with my apology, because the people who deserve that apology have been informed with the kind of respect that apology demands.

The crux is – there are 2 parties in an apology: the aggrieved and the wrong-doer. If we add the 3rd group – the world at large – that reduces the impact of that apology, at least in my opinion.

Photo courtesy: Times of Israel.