Imagine my surprise this morning, after having blogged just yesterday about rote airline instructions concerning the danger of electronic devices in Lacking Credibility, to see the cover story for USA Today read: "Many Fliers Refuse to Turn Off Electronic Gadgets."
Incidentally, not this Gadget, but that’s another story altogether.
Recall that yesterday, in writing about the importance of brand credibility in the airline industry, I was somewhat critical of the Christian Science Monitor’s platitudinous coverage of the subject:
"I’d like to see the evidence or at least something other than conclusory statements on the subject of signal interference. Without more substance or explanation, passenger skepticism is fueled, and credibility is out the window without a parachute."
USA Today to the rescue of the airline industry’s credibility on signal interference warnings:
"Gadget-dependent fliers are turning a deaf ear to flight attendants’ instructions to turn off their devices during takeoff and landing, despite decades of government warnings, a USA TODAY investigation shows."
"The investigation, which reviewed thousands of pages of technical documents and surveyed hundreds of frequent fliers, also confirm that the worry about electronics on planes is not baseless: The devices emit radio signals that can interfere with cockpit instruments and flight systems."
Now, imagine my further surprise that USA Today is the designated news source that is going to lead the charge to convince skeptical passengers that the in flight warnings are legit — being aware of the smart folks over at Fast Horse’s Idea Peep Show – who have raised more than a few questions about the level of credibility that USA Today brings to the table:
- Endorsement From USA Today Actually Hurts Sales (Bob Ingrassia) (November 30, 2011)
- RIP, USA Today (John Reinan) (February 15, 2011)
- USA Yesterday (Jorg Pierach) (August 30, 2010)
So, how likely is it that USA Today will turn the tide on the growing skepticism of air passengers?
I don’t know, but it seems like a good opportunity for a compelling PR campaign if the data really yields cause for concern.
But, here’s the first PR hurdle: If the concern is real and legitimate why do airlines leave to chance whether the hundreds of electronic devices on any given flight are actually turned off before they are put in someone’s purse, pocket, pouch, or otherwise temporarily stowed?
Sorry USA Today, I still prefer the idea of a creative airline marketer turning the electronics debate into a brand messaging opportunity – one that inspires credibility and consumer loyalty instead of simply sending passengers into another form of tailspin.