Southwest: Our proactive response is crucial in a crisis

The airline tells PR Daily: ‘We want our customers to find out about it from us, before it hits the evening news.’

So when one of its planes slid off a runway at Chicago’s Midway Airport on Tuesday, the scrappy, Dallas-based airline simply flipped its social media crisis communication switch to “on.” No one was hurt, but photos of the plane sitting awkwardly in a grassy field made the news circuits.

Not wasting any time, Southwest sent out a tweet offering basic details. A post went up on Facebook. A media release was posted on its website and on its blog, called “Nuts About Southwest.” As details emerged, updates followed.

This was no fluke. Christi McNeill, who oversees social media communication at Southwest, told PR Daily on Wednesday that social media is a key component of the airlines’ crisis plan.

“As soon as we get some facts, we share it with our customers,” McNeill said. “We want our customers to find out about it from us, before it hits the evening news.”

So much for the “not commenting until the incident has been reviewed by the FAA and NTSB” response that some other airlines fall back on.

True to its crisis plan, Southwest did not delay in responding after passengers on the plane and witnesses bombarded social media with details of the event.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.