Volvo Tweet About Malaysia Airlines MH370 Sparks Criticism

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I’m on the lookout to see if a full-blown witch hunt will ensue for the outside agency handling Volvo’s social media. Malaysia Airlines MH370 is gone without a trace, and someone at this outside agency tweeted this recently on Volvo’s behalf:

“The rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane is in full swing. Passenger safety is also a top priority at Volvo Cars, let’s pray together for the 239 lives that were on board of the plane. Bless them, and may a miracle occur.”

Here’s a link to the full article about this tweet. A fellow public relations professional – Frank Strong – posted this link in a Google+ community. My initial reaction was simply to sigh heavily and anticipate a wave of enraged, indignant PR pros tearing this outside agency apart for its insensitivity. This was my public response:

Perhaps this is why I don’t deal in crisis communications. I’m so incredibly NOT bothered by the Volvo post. I think there are people in the PR community who monitor tragedies like this and seek opportunities to burn at the stake any company perceived to cross the line. Is this the worst they could find? Anyone who knows anything about the Volvo brand knows safety is its cornerstone. Could they have left out “Passenger safety is also a top priority at Volvo Cars?” Yes. Is this an egregious misstep? I say far from it.

While he appreciated my opinion, Frank mostly disagreed with me.

“I think what bothers people about these things is the attempt to gain on the coattails of tragedy,” he said. “The company made a name on safety for sure, but that doesn’t make the disappearance of a plane a good time to remind the public of their position.”

I think he has a good point.

I’m just saying I’ve seen a lot worse. Kenneth Cole, anyone?