Cathay campaigns against flight attendants' unwise internet posts
'If in doubt, leave it out' is message of YouTube video aimed at protecting airline's reputation
Cathay Pacific has posted a video on YouTube featuring real-life images of flight attendants behaving badly in a campaign to get cabin crew not to embarrass themselves and the airline with their Facebook postings.
The video includes a picture of a male flight attendant appearing to smoke a cigarette in the galley of a plane, which went up on Facebook and led to his firing, and another of a woman flight attendant putting her shoeless feet on to a seat opposite her on an airport bus.
The animated video is part of an internal social-media education campaign to get across the message to flight attendants that posting inappropriate images or comments about work online can damage the reputation of themselves and the company.
It follows a series of incidents where injudicious postings on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media have led to stories appearing in newspapers and in some cases disciplinary action against the employees involved.
The flight attendant appearing to smoke was actually using dry ice and a fake cigarette, according to his union, but he lost his job after the image was circulated among crew members and ended up in a Chinese-language newspaper.
Cathay's two-minute video, posted to a non-public YouTube forum, advises flight attendants to "respect our brand" and tells them not to "present our logo and uniforms in a way that is open to ridicule".
Its commentary says: "If in doubt, leave it out … Make sure what you are saying doesn't harm the company's reputation or your reputation as CX cabin crew. If you wouldn't say it on board, don't say it online."
It also urges them not to air work grievances about schedules or passengers online, telling them that comments can be picked up and used by newspapers and others and that what they post online is there forever.
Dora Lai Yuk-sim, chairwoman of the Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union, said she supported the company's campaign.
"Some crew members will post anything, and it does put others in trouble, especially when it's shared," she said. "It really does damage not only Cathay Pacific's reputation but our reputation as cabin crew as well."
She said she hoped this social-media awareness policy "will help people understand what they are doing and what they may face".
A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said the response from employees to the video had been positive.
"They appreciate that we have a social-media etiquette [that is meant] to protect them as individuals as much as the company as a whole," she said.
"We support open dialogue and view social networking as a positive aspect of communication. We also fully respect the rights of our staff to use such sites as networking and self-expression media.
"In fact, for our cabin crew, we have developed an internal social enterprise networking app called iCrew. [It] is purpose-built for cabin crew and allows them to collaborate on work-related matters as well as share experiences with their colleagues in a safe and fun environment.
"The video is simply a part of an ongoing effort to remind our staff of our social-media etiquette - to share thoughts and ideas and photos with respect and in keeping with company policies."