Southwest Gets It Right

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    Airline learns from crisis management mistakes

    Southwest Airlines is no stranger to crisis management, just earlier this month coping with a messy communication situation after a flight was forced to make an emergency landing due to a a ruptured fuselage, so when a landing flight not only slid off of a runway in Chicago, but was photographed seemingly pointed directly at a nearby White Castle burger joint, the airline leapt into action.

    PR Daily has more details:

    Southwest Airlines’ crisis PR team is working overtime.

    Today they are responding to media calls and posting on social media outlets about a flight that skidded off the runway at Chicago’s Midway Airport and into a patch of mud. No injuries were reported in the incident, but it worked its way into the top news story on websites and television.

    The Chicago Tribune posted a video of the plane sitting at the end of runway, its nose pointing at a White Castle drive-thru restaurant across the street.

    Almost immediately following today’s report, Southwest put out a statement confirming that the plane slid off the end of the runway and none of the passengers were injured. The airline pointed out that there were reports of heavy rain in the area at the time the aircraft landed.

    Southwest’s statement on the incident was posted on its Facebook page shortly after it occurred, and it drew a whopping 128 “likes” and 170 comments. Most backed up the airlines and lay the blame on Midway and the weather.

    Southwest not only addressed the situation on Facebook, but Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Gowalla, FourSquare, and its company blog. Once again it’s been proven that simple, honest communication pays off, as Southwest’s approach resulted in the crisis quickly moving from story of the day to a non-incident overnight.

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
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    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.]