How not to win friends and influence people

JetBlue has had its share of advocates and defenders in the aftermath of its Valentine’s Day Massacre. And one can argue all day long as to whether the airline did or didn’t do things well, or will or won’t survive.

But one thing’s not up for argument in my book: JetBlue Director of Communications Jenny Dervin has some pretty unhelpful ideas about who to be blaming right now. Here’s a choice quote from Ms. Dervin from a PR Week cover story: "Those (PR) agencies that felt the need to contact our CEO and the corporate communications department directly, telling us exactly what we were doing wrong, were not helpful, and they are all going to go on a special list that I’m going to share with my colleagues in the PR industry, encouraging them never to do business with those companies."

Holy cow! Shades of the Nixon enemies list of the late 1960s and the Hollywood blacklists of the 1950s! Can you believe Ms. Dervin is threatening to hurt the reputations of ANY PR firms that called her, her office or the CEO during the crisis? Aren’t there more pressing matters at hand for her and her company?

Well, Ms. Dervin, I’m pleased to report that we didn’t call you, your department or your CEO. To be sure, we did so some years ago, but didn’t reach out during this crisis. And won’t. Ever.

That said, I do hope that you and JetBlue survive for a very long time. But keep in mind that the PR industry is a relatively small one, where everyone knows everyone else (or almost). Experience shows that people who go out of their way to hurt other people don’t do well in our business (or most others).

So hang onto your job, Ms. Dervin. Else you may find out that others compile their own lists: Executive search recruiters, senior communications executives and heads of agencies all keep lists in their heads of senior staff prospects — good and bad. And while I believe those lists aren’t as mean-spirited as the one being tallied by someone who wants to blacklist PR professionals, it’s a marketplace reality that what goes around can come around.

7 thoughts on “How not to win friends and influence people

  1. Anyone who black lists companies calling with the intent to help is either delusional or worried about her job. If she’s delusional, nothing can help her. If she’s worried about her job, maybe it’s because Repman is right. For her to suggest she’s going to encourage her colleagues in the PR industry never to work with these firms is just plain retarded and proves she is probably both delusional and inept. It doesn’t take a genius to read an Intro to PR book and know the right steps to take in a crisis. Properly executing those steps and preparing your senior management is where the brainpower comes in. Clearly Ms. Dervin can read. Not so sure about the brainpower in this case.
    And what the hell are her ‘colleagues’ going to think when she calls them and tells them never to work with ABC firm. “They called trying to help me in a crisis, those bastards!” Yeah… brilliant.

  2. Med guy: you missed the point. I was actually defending the PR agency world since many, like you, worry about possible retribution down the road. I don’t, and think comments like this need to be called out. A bully is a bully, I-man, regardless of whether he or she represents a powerful airline or peddles surgical gloves.

  3. i actually had read her comments and lets just say i have a good sense of her thoughts on pr firms. her original quote of “never had one, never will” tells you all you need to know. if she found value in them, then she was have hired one as a partner, in my humble opinion. saying she talks to them and learned from them says that the “value” is being able to get/take what you can from those around you. i talk to my biggest competitors, go to lunch with them and network with them- doesn’t mean i find much value in them other than the invaluable info they can provide me for the small cost of steak.

  4. I suggest you read Ms. Dervin’s comments on the PR Week blog to understand her views about PR firms. Sadly, she makes no mention of medical supply executives.

  5. well lunchy, maybe you should take time to read the article before you comment on ms. dervin’s reputation. if you did, you would find the following bit of info pasted below my comments. the info shows that 1) she is doing a good job 2) she and her team have done their part, now its up to other areas to do their thing.
    and before you read the info, consider that she clearly has no interest in pr agencies and doesn’t see value in them. being that she works on the other side and has done a job being applauded by many, i dont think she will need to go back to the agency grind anytime soon. she can leave that menial job to folks like yourself…
    Crisis experts applaud the airline for its timely response, but added that there is still more to be done.
    “In terms of media relations, Neeleman is doing a great job,” said James Donnelly, SVP, crisis management at Ketchum. “He’s doing a lot of things that you would typically expect from good crisis response. He’s been visible, humbly apologetic, and the introduction of the customer bill of rights is a textbook example of the overreaction you expect, [but] public relations goes beyond media management. In this situation it’s really going to be about the customer experience.”
    “The fact that Jet Blue came forward immediately and acknowledged the problems and is committed to fixing them…is the first step toward retaining customers,” added Matt Gonring of Gagen MacDonald, which has worked with United Airlines on internal communications efforts. “The key is getting the workforce and technology aligned to deliver on it.”

  6. Rep didn’t write this blog to benefit him or his company (I think). If you hadn’t noticed, he writes about “reputation management” and it seems that JetBlue’s top communicator might need some. Pronto.
    Sheesh, I’m wondering if she was actually yelling during her interview with PR Week.

  7. rep-
    find this post to be interesting, but, i have to wonder what the point was. whether or not pcom called her or neeleman isn’t the issue. to me, the issue is you calling her out and getting into a “war of words” is simply a huge mistake. you are correct that every industry is relatively small and making enemies never helps anyone. you never know who is reading this blog, and if jenny did read this, i can’t see how it could benefit you. actually, i would hope the day doesn’t come when you walk into a new biz presentation, and there sits ms. dervin across the table. or, what if ms. dervin took over as director of crp. comm for your biggest client- you think she would keep you on?