A quick Google for ‘Ryanair sucks’ returns thousands of hits. It’s one of the most despised airlines in the world. And rightly so. It makes huge profits, destroys old monopolies, and ‘names and shames’ those that cross its path.
As a business writer, you can learn a lot from Ryanair. I’ve studied their press releases, marketing messages, and the language its CEO uses when shredding competitors.
Why Assertive Writing Is More Memorable?
Most airlines don’t attack one another directly. They talk about the competition in vague terms. It’s not very interesting… or memorable.
Ryanair is the opposite.
It identifies its competitors, highlights their weaknesses, and then goes after them.
And it does it again and again and again…
Most firms can’t respond. They don’t know how to. And by the time they respond, they look slow, dim, and defensive.
Here’s an example.
‘Ryanair’s record traffic growth continues as more and more passengers switch from high fare, fuel surcharging flag carriers, such as Aer Lingus, Air France, BA and Lufthansa – who can’t compete with Ryanair’s low fares or No1 customer service (including best punctuality, baggage delivery and flight completions).’
Read that again.
‘Aer Lingus, Air France, BA and Lufthansa can’t compete with Ryanair’s low fares or No1 customer service’
Can you imagine BA saying this about Lufthansa? Probably not as they may have some alliance.
These firms have two options: ignore or respond.
Most don’t take up the challenge.
So, Ryanair takes more swipes at them.
‘Ryanair confirmed that while it continues to grow at lower cost airports outside Ireland , it has recently had its offer for 5m additional passengers at Irish airports (over five years) turned down by the Dept of Transport who continue to allow the DAA monopoly to mismanage and oversee traffic collapses at Ireland’s main airports (while Ryanair grows rapidly)’
This approach puts others on the defensive. And regardless of how well they respond, they’re on the back foot. Not where you want to be.
‘While Ryanair grows sadly Irish air traffic and tourism continues to decline because of the Govt’s travel tax and the DAA’s high airport fees.’
Remember, this is a press release. When’s the last time you read a press release that carried so much punch?
‘Ryanair’s unbeatable formula of lowest fares, no fuel surcharges and No1 customer service continues to encourage passengers to switch from high fare, fuel surcharging, strike-ridden flag carriers including Aer Lingus, Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa.”
How does Aer Lingus, Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa respond to this?
How to be an Assertive Writer
So, should you start writing like Ryanair? Savaging your competitors, lambasting their shoddy services, and deriding their inferior products? It’s worth considering.
But there is a downside.
Ryanair can say this – and get away with it – as it does offer lower rates, more destinations, and has shaken up the industry. So, it’s not empty rhetoric.
Even more important. The ‘us v them’ mentality runs through the entire company. The CEO (Michael O’Leary) leads from the front, setting the tone. Others follow his example.
Unless your CEO offers the same support, adopting Ryanair’s tactics is likely to backfire. Rather than getting credit, you may find yourself isolated and accused of mis-understanding the company’s core values.
Before we go.
If you wanted to propose this assertive type of writing to your boss, how would you go about it? What objections would she have? How would you address them?