Lessons from JetBlue – Check Your Work

Dan Wardby Dan Ward

JetBlue has found itself in hot water over a Black History Month display at New York’s JFK – a display that included a “civil rights activist … regarded as a hero” … who also happens to be a convicted cop killer.

To the airline’s credit, they took down the poster featuring Assata Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, after questions were raised on Twitter.

But to the airline’s discredit, an excuse was offered that the poster was part of a “ready-made batch” bought from a third party.

Well, it’s great that you didn’t produce the display yourself, JetBlue, but did anyone happen to look at it before it was installed? The poster itself clearly points out that Shakur was “the first woman to be placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list after escaping to Cuba from prison.” Should that have not raised an alarm bell with anyone in the corporate office?

It’s quite common for companies – and their PR and marketing representatives – to buy into promotions through third-party relationships. But it’s also common (let’s just call it a “rule”) to LOOK AT that purchase before moving forward. Failing to do so is like distributing a major news release without reading it first.

JetBlue is a strong, well-liked company and this hit to its corporate reputation will be quickly forgotten. But the lesson is one that those of us who put our faith in third-party vendors should long remember.

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