Ryanair – Is bad publicity ever the right strategy?

Achieving notoriety or being criticised for new proposals hardly seems like the best route to take when engaging with the media.

But that's exactly what Ryanair have been doing and it seems to have been helping them rather than hindering. 

This week their Chief Executive, Michael O'Leary, announced another money-making scheme to add its increasing list of revenue-boosting initiatives.

O'Leary, who is famous for his uncompromising approach to cost-cutting and fee generation,  said that he wants to abolish checked-in bags to save money on growing fuel costs, reduce their handling costs and even speed up their plane turnaround.

Will this be the final straw for travellers who want to fly low-budget? 

I recall in 2011, Ryanair revealed yet another controversial plan to charge people a fee when they used the toilet – shock horror. But the proposed plans were never implemented and again, Ryanair received a lot of publicity about it.  

Similarly, when an angry woman took to Facebook because she was charged a large fee for not printing out a few boarding passes, the story was picked up by the media with Ryanair remaining unfazed by the outburst.

To this day, the airline still doesn't have a social media account to create open dialogue with their customers, going against conventional wisdom which says that all customer-facing businesses should do so.

O'Leary plays a clever game. He is charming and knowledgeable whenever he is interviewed and none of his suggestions seem to have a huge impact on profits.

Ultimately, his comments create headlines.

People will continue to fly Ryanair because of its relatively low costs and punctuality.

Regardless of their reputation for being ruthless and inflexible, Ryanair certainly understand the benefits of owned and earned media.

At Calacus, we believe there’s an opportunity in every situation and finding interesting ways to generate coverage for our clients is key to getting attention.

Sparking conversations - the "you never guess what...?" moments sets great brands apart from the good. And Ryanair know how to do that brilliantly.

 Kourtney Shaw