Flight Centre UK find PR potential in a mundane scenario

As I passively scrolled through my Twitter feed, I stumbled across a post regarding a situation that initially appeared somewhat passive. A few clicks later and I’m intrigued by a simple, yet subtly clever, PR move. For me, it is the fitting reminder that we, as PR practitioners, need to make the most of every opportunity regardless of whether it’s big or small. We shouldn’t overlook the potential within simple monotonous day-to-day situations that we all encounter.

The scenario: A young guy, George Armstrong, goes on a night out, gets drunk and loses his ID card. Standard. The outcome: A travel agency, Flight Centre UK, find his ID, return it to him and then some. You may ask yourself, how have these two managed to cross paths? Very simply. The travel agency had found his ID outside of their premises. They then took it upon themselves to post it back to George and most likely gave him a slight scare in the process of doing so.

Upon opening the letter, George was welcomed with his nicely laid out travel summary. It appeared that he had treated himself and booked flights from London Heathrow to the Maldives (#treatyoself). The following page thanked him for his custom and gave a subtle reminder that his rather modest balance of £5,289.87 would be due by the end of the week. However, he was finally put out of his misery when he came to the last page. It stated that the entire thing was just a joke and that they had simply found his ID outside of their premises. (Note the lovely ‘Just make sure you consider us for your next holiday. Take care!’ at the end).

Those who are inherent sticklers when it comes to grammar, can’t quite seem to get over the faux pas that was the incorrect use of the word you’re instead of your. For the rest of us mere mortals who saw past this faux pas, it was simply a kind act and an imaginative move all in one by the travel agency.

Flight Centre UK has somehow eloquently mixed humour with fear – not quite the same fear that George thought he’d suffer from after his night out on the town. Facts are boring; playing on emotions will spark true reactions and grab people’s attention. This example backs up that statement. Imagine if Flight Centre UK had have returned George’s ID and attached nothing else. Well, you don’t have to imagine because that passive act would have been just that. Dull. Boring.

Having just clicked back on the post, it appears that George has paid a visit to Flight Centre UK to meet the guy who made it all happen – Steve. Instead of robotically signing off the letter as an unnamed member of the team, Steve took the personal approach and simply used his first name. Everyone wants and appreciates that personal touch when dealing with corporations and particularly with bigger corporations. George appreciated his gesture so much so that he even got his photo taken with his new-found friend Steve. A happy, humorous ending to a simple mistake.

Louise Harvey is studying for an MSc in Communications and Public Relations with Advertising at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @louiseharvey_ // Instagram: @louiseharvey93 // LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/harveylouise/ 

Pourquoi ?

Pourquoi, the French word meaning why. A question that I’ve been asking myself several times since moving from Toulouse, situated in the sunny South of France back to the cold, rainy hills of Donegal. I was happy there, felt settled and have made some lifelong friendships. One word stands out in that sentence to me. Settled. In my eyes, being settled in this context is synonymous to being in your comfort zone. Does anybody like the feeling of change? It can be rather scary and overwhelming at first. Anyway, I decided a change is what I needed to gain a career I’ll enjoy.

During the first week of uni, our lecturer, Conor McGrath, told us to question everything in PR – including his own words. I find this a refreshing outlook to have in life in general. Mind you, since moving home, I’ve already had the joy of attempting to answering why the simple things in life are the way they are to my four-year-old niece! Is it just me or do we seem to lose this curious nature the older we become? We don’t seem to question anything until it directly affects us.

 

 

During the same week, someone else asked me about the master’s course I was going to be studying. When I told them about it, the response I got was ‘Oh, public relations, are they going to train you how to answer the phone?’. Oh, touché my friend. A few hours later, I was reading the first paper we had been given for our seminar the following week. One part of the paper stumbles upon the professionalisation of public relations. It briefly comments on how there are few people outside of the profession that accept it as that: a profession. It made me realise how oblivious many people are to what is behind PR and the power in which it holds from the way we view the world to how we view people in the media. Perhaps this ignorance plays to the advantage of PR practitioners. Or am I already feeding into that stereotype of PR practitioners being nothing but untrustworthy beings out to do us all wrong?

Having just finished my second week on the course, I find myself questioning one event. PM Theresa May’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference. Firstly, the lyrics ‘Who knows why it’s gotta be this way?’ from Rihanna and Calvin Harris’ song ‘This is what you came for’ filled the room as she entered. Why pick this song? I’m guessing this is her attempt to form a link between herself and the younger supporters of the party?

Those who attended the conference got more than what they had thought they came for. You couldn’t make it all up. Between a P45 being handed to her by prankster, Lee Nelson, to her coughing fit that went on for what felt like a decade, to the Chancellor giving her a lozenge to somehow help the situation, to her coughing some more, to the letters of the slogan on the wall falling behind her mid-speech. Not long after the conference she posted this on Twitter:

 

 

Right, so she is making light of what just happened. Top marks for having a witty response on social media within hours of the event happening. But can anything help her reputation at this point? Today, the day after the conference, numerous ministers have been backing her publicly. However, former Conservative minister, Ed Vaizey, has suggested that numerous MPs feel it’s time for her to resign. Her lack of leadership is evident but who would replace her during this crisis?

I have many British friends living in France, currently EU citizens living in another EU country, wondering what Brexit has in store for them and their livelihoods. Theresa May isn’t exactly giving them the picture of hope. Likewise, she isn’t giving me any hope. I live a short 15-minute drive to the border of Northern Ireland and I had no say in the Brexit vote yet the outcome of what is yet to come will potentially affect my town and community.

I would say I had a mild interest in British politics up until around two years ago. Like I said at the beginning, we don’t seem to question anything until it directly affects us…

Louise Harvey is studying for a MSc in Communications and Public Relations with Advertising at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @louiseharvey_ Instagram: @louiseharvey93