Update: One of the things I love about the Net is the willingness of people to spring into action in times of crisis. Case in point: the spanking new site JetsGone that stakano plugs in the comments on this post.

I’ve touched on JetsGo‘s problems in the past, and a comment from new visitor Betty (everyone say “Hello, Betty!”) asks how you communicate about this kind of screw-up. For what they’re worth, here are my initial thoughts:

As Betty implies, this is major damage control territory. Much depends on setting realistic goals within the limits of what the company can responsibly and legally achieve.

And sadly, Jetsgo (should we now call it Jetsgone?) is probably very confined in those terms. I can’t pretend to understand the intricacies of how Jetsgo’s particular situation meshes with bankruptcy law and aviation regulation.

There’s also the question of what Jetsgo could hope to achieve. If they’re holding out any hope of relaunching, then they’ll want to retain some kind of passenger goodwill. If, as seems more likely, the owners are just trying to recoup whatever they can on their investments, then you can expect to see very little effort expended.

That said, the basic rules of crisis still apply. Give people as much information as soon as possible. Get a narrative out quickly, one that emphasizes how much everyone did to keep the planes flying.

One credo of communications is to give credit if you want to get credit. Talk up your employees and their professionalism and dedication. Talk about the Jetsgo vision, and how you still believe in good service and good value for Canadian passengers.

Of course, half the trick is finding someone who’s willing to be the public face of a disastrous failure. And if there aren’t good answers to some troubling questions — Is it standard practice to operate without sufficient cash reserves to honour existing return tickets? When did you realize closure was likely, and what steps did you take to protect your customers? — volunteers will be scarce.

Similarly, if you’re planning on taking whatever money you can and getting out of Dodge, then PR — along with your employees and customers — is probably the last thing you care about at this stage. If that’s the case, it may provide some clue as to why you’re in this position today.

(Incidentally, by way of Darren Barefoot, here’s the skinny on what stranded passengers can do.)