Flying High Above the Crisis Monday, Apr 6 2009 

In my last post I talked about crisis communication and how Whole Foods did not respond to their crisis very well. Now I am going to talk about a company that had a crisis and responded to it in a great way.

Southwest Airlines was reported to have missed inspections on some of their airplanes. Journalists and reporters printed stories about the incident and Southwest was forced to land 41 of its planes.

Southwest has a phone bank in case of crises like this one. There are people who answer phones and respond to reporters’ questions and concerns about the inspection issue. Other people that had to be reached were the employees and of course the customers. Because many of the employees for the airline are in the air and cannot reach a computer, there was another form of technology that was being used, the telephone. The Southwest CEO recorded three news lines in a week for the employees over the phone. In these news lines, the CEO talked about things that were happening within the organization that the employees would otherwise not know about. This is especially important during a crisis because employees hear things about their company from other media outlets, but they aren’t able to decipher what is true and what isn’t.

Reaching customers during a crisis is also vital. Southwest posted updates on their company blog, Nuts About Southwest. This encouraged bloggers to respond to what was happening within Southwest. The company made sure they responded to both the positive and negative comments on the blog. I have talked previously about the advantages of negative comments and how they are crucial to making a company better and Southwest understands this.

The Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Southwest Airlines talks more about their crisis and how they responded to it both internally and externally.

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Don’t Panic Monday, Apr 6 2009 

Having a good reputation is one of the most important things for a company to uphold. When a company’s reputation is tarnished, consumers lose trust in the company. This is concerning because without trust, consumers will no longer want to be a part of a company or buy from or invest in the business. A way reputation in a company becomes flawed is when a crisis occurs. A crisis is an unfortunate event that results in negative media attention which leads to decline in sales. Because crises are bound to happen sometime in the life span of a company, it is important to have a strategy in dealing with it. This is why crisis communication is a very important job in a company and should be taken seriously.

The crisis communicator’s main job is to react and respond to the problem as soon as possible. The person needs to put together a crisis communication plan with a team of people to put forth the plan. An article from Howstuffworks by Dave Roos titled How Crisis Communication Plans Work, goes through the steps of what to do before, during and after a company crisis. Roos says that companies need to ‘tell it all and tell it fast’ to their customers. Nothing is worse than when a company lies or misleads their customers by not telling the whole truth of when a disaster occurs. Roos goes on to say that the next step should be to put out a press release stating what exactly happened and what the company is doing to fix it.

During a crisis, a company should be the one to try to control the message that goes out to the public. Holding a press conference and then blogging with customers is a way to start this.

A company that had a crisis back in July was Whole Foods. There were mouse droppings and a dead mouse found in one of the food stores in Chicago. When the store temporarily closed and word got out to the public of what happened, Whole Foods was slow to react. The company did not handle their crisis in a smart way. There was no immediate communication with their consumers and therefore people were upset. The video below talks more about the Whole Foods incident and what the company did wrong in dealing with their crisis.

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