Insights into business, society, and life in general

The Witch Hunt

As a writing and communication maven, I can’t help but notice the increase in communication of all sorts these days  even if it isn’t exactly positive and upbeat. But it’s communication: emails, blogs, newsletters, text messages, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and a zillion more media. Social networking media is soaring through the digisphere with people Tweeting, Facing, and texting their way through relationships.

However, one thing in the communication arena has never thrilled me and that is corporate communications. I think advertising is useless and the scourge of society. And then there’s spin city, the great god in the sky PR mechanism that spins so fast and furiously we become literally dizzy and can’t walk straight.

But today I saw some legitimate PR, and it was generated by Colgan Air, the company whose plane crashed a week ago in Buffalo, NY, killing 50 people. And now I feel compelled to tell you about it.

I’ve been obsessed by that crash, wondering what the passengers and crew went through, what terror they felt as their airplane twirled and dove through the sky, out of control. Did they know the end was near? To satisfy this morbidity of mine, I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on,even so far as to set up a google alert.

No surprise, the press, rabid for a hint of fault and cause, has begun to imply that the fault might lie with the airline, for inadequate pilot training, and the crew, for not responding properly because of inexperience. In the background now is the key fact that the crew was fighting significant icing conditions and the subsequent effects on the aerodynamics of the airplane. Icing particularly affects prop planes because they don’t have the advantage of a jet engine to propel warm air over susceptible metal surfaces.

The airline has begun responding, only it’s not spin — it’s truth, it’s assertive, and it’s admirable.

“Colgan Air and its parent company, Pinnacle Airlines Corp., appear to be losing patience with all the speculation surrounding Colgan Air Flt. 3407, the Dash-8 Q400 that crashed last week near Buffalo. They are clearly annoyed that information made public by the NTSB has spawned so much theorizing and finger pointing by the media and the public at large, long before all of the facts about the accident are known.”

This begins the text and subsequent quotes from the folks at Colgan who are doing what they must do in an eloquent and professional way:

“Today the company issued a 3-page document – Frequently Asked Questions – Colgan Air Flight 3407. One item on that document clearly indicates the frustration of the airline’s management in the face of massive media speculation about the cause of the accident:If the process is supposed to be private until findings are determined, why am I seeing speculation about potential causes?”

Read more in the Aircrew Buzz blog.


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