Thomas Cook collapse
Opinion, Student/PR

Thomas Cook Collapse: Compassion From Brands Or Easy PR?

Here’s a tough question, but one I wanted to ask (because I love a tricky ask): in wake of Thomas Cook’s collapse, there has been an abundance of brands offering the 9000+ who’ve lost their jobs positions within their establishments. Some competitors, some not so much. But is this genuine compassion from the organisations, or just an easy shot at PR

It’s really hard to say, and an uncomfortable question at best. But I wanted to ask it nevertheless. Because if you can’t talk about the things burning at the back of your mind on your own blog, where can you. Right?

So, please join me in delving into this debate and answering the question: are brands simply jumping on Thomas Cook’s demise as a cheap and easy shot at positive publicity, or do they have genuine empathy for the tens of thousands of poor people who lost their jobs and livelihoods this week?

Let’s look at the story.

The Thomas Cook Collapse

So in case you’ve been living under a ROCK this past week, the breaking story has been that Thomas Cook, one of the biggest and oldest airlines, has ceased trading. If you follow retail news as I do, you’d have known the organisation was in turbulence for a while, but if you weren’t keeping up to date with the company, then it probably would have come as quite a shock when Thomas Cook announced they’d gone into liquidation. Thousands of passengers were left stranded overseas, as the organisation announced that they would stop flying their planes immediately. The situation was so abrupt that some members of cabin crew reported finding out they were now unemployed while around 30,000ft up in the air. There have been reports that those without holiday insurance have had to pay their hotels thousands of pounds that Thomas Cook bosses failed to pay the establishments.

The website, where only last week were people still booking their holidays on, has now disappeared. Type in Thomas Cook’s URL and you’ll be met with a very sad page which reads that the Thomas Cook corporation has ceased trading with immediate effect. On a personal level, it’s really, really unfortunate to see such a well-known brand go under. And my thoughts are with those who’ve lost their jobs, and also those who may have lost holidays they’d been saving up for.

Thomas Cook administration notice

Anyway, you know the background, now let’s move on to the next chapter of the story.

How Brands Came To The Rescue

In a time where terms such as “Thomas Cook collapse” and “Thomas Cook bankruptcy” are literally dominating the media, it’s not uncommon to see that kind of talk on social media either. But one thing I perhaps didn’t expect was the amount of brands, both competitors and non-competitors, who have shown solidarity with Thomas Cook and have offered their ex-staff members positions within their own organisations. Here’s just a few examples of this happening:

Viral Tweets From Those Looking For Jobs

I’ve seen multiple tweets that have spread far and wide from previous employees of Thomas Cook who’ve asked the power of social media to help them find a new job. And helped it has. The tweets you can see below have the likes of Virgin, TUI, Jet 2 and Cruise reply to them.

Thomas Cook employee tweets

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Viral Tweets From Brands

And then you have the brands themselves too. Many of whom have taken to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to advertise that they’re hiring for roles that are for Thomas Cook employees only. Their offers have been gratefully received.

Thomas Cook collapse brand tweets

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Brands including British Airways, TUI, Easy Jet, Cruise, Flybe, Jet2 and Virgin all have similar social media posts. And even organisations away from the travel industry have quickly jumped on this trend, offering their current vacancies to those who’d lost their jobs. Just this morning on my way to work I’d noticed tweets from St. John’s Ambulance, Northern Rail, West Midlands Rail and more.

But what are their motives?

Pity Or Publicity?

This brings us to the controversial question that I’m certain other PRs would have been questioning (or maybe it’s just me who’s the massive sceptic): is this an act of true kindness, or have these brands seen a great PR opportunity and grabbed it by the reigns.

I mean, if we are to be critical, it’s likely that a lot of these job vacancies were already open before Thomas Cook collapsed, and the companies have now advertised them out to those who’ve lost their jobs after seeing the opportunity in doing so. After learning about PR for several years now, I’m a little cynical to every action a brand ever takes, and this is certainly one of them I’m more inquisitive about.

But that being said, it’s also not uncommon for some big corporations to have genuine compassionate business values. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) does have a role to play in every organisation, but some brands are really transparent about their values (LUSH is a really good example). So in one breath, I’m like: “this is a definite deliberate cheap PR shot” but in another breath, I’m also saying: “some brands genuinely have great beliefs and morals, so maybe they are offering jobs to the ex-Thomas Cook employees out of the goodness of their hearts”. I mean, their pain has resonated with me, so why wouldn’t it resonate with the big bosses too?

I’m really on the fence with this one, but I think one thing can be agreed: much like Dilyn the dog, whatever the motivations of these job vacancies, the overarching positive is that people who have lost their jobs will benefit from this. People who’ve had their world come crashing down have been presented with an abundance of offers from other companies, and it does feel as though there are brands out there who are genuinely going to help them. Whether it was a publicity-motivated act or not, the ex-Thomas Cook employees are going to benefit from this either way, so I guess nobody can argue that that’s a bad thing. Right?

What do you think? Tweet me. I’d LOVE to hear your opinions on this one.

Your Opinions

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