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Online communication failure

One of the biggest mergers of this year, closed on October 1st: United and Continental airlines. Since they’d announced the merge here at the company we have heard about the process but until yesterday I heard about the communication failure. One of my closest friends at the company was in charge of building the new Investor Relation (IR) site that would integrate both companies. Yesterday she was telling me that her experience with the PR firm that handles Continental’s communications was not pleasant at all and this would impacted her future decisions about traveling again on either of these airlines. Consequently, they didn’t just lost one customer but also a few more that were involved with this project. Also, they could lose a few more as word of mouth spreads out.

Two weeks before the formal closing of the merge my friend got the project and start working with United on the HTML templates but a week later she was informed that now Continental’s PR firm would handle everything.  This meant that the whole project would need to be rebuilt from scratch but surprisely the firm didn’t have a template or any content ready. My friend made several attempts at reaching out to the PR firm with questions but they didn’t respond. On September 28 she got a new HTML template and started developing the IR site but on September 29 (2 days before the launch) she received a new template. When I heard all about this story I was shocked that a PR firm that is handling such a huge merge decides to launch a website without having the minimum required preparations and most importantly having a total lack of communication. They didn’t even know the process for building or integrating two websites was and it seems that didn’t know how to treat, respond and give instructions to people. I was told that the PR firm was screaming and yelling all the time. Probably this firm was under a lot of pression but it looks like they forgot how important it was having ready an online communication tool such as an IR site when all the eyes would be looking at the company.

Obviously, the launching didn’t go as smoothly as it should have because of the last minute fixes that the site needed and in this case the mess was worse as the IR site was already live and getting traffic and the investors and institutional community were already noticing the chaos. Therefore, from my perspective during this important financial move the e-communication strategy and planning didn’t work well. If this happened with the IR site I can’t picture how the process was for the integration of their corporate websites.

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