2008 Schering-Plough Executive Lectures
                                       March 15, 2008

     The Social Media Minds...
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Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (publication date: April 21, 2008)

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Case study on crisis communications using social media

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Case study prepared for MBA students at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

The Social Media Mindset: Why Companies Who “Get It” Will Thrive in the Era of
Citizen Marketing and Citizen Journalism
Case Study Discussion: Crisis Communications and Southwest Airlines’ blog

Published in: Technology, Business
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Case study on crisis communications using social media

  1. 1. 2008 Schering-Plough Executive Lectures March 15, 2008 The Social Media Mindset: Why Companies Who “Get It” Will Thrive in the Era of Citizen Marketing and Citizen Journalism Case Study Discussion: Crisis Communications and Southwest Airlines’ blog www.blogsouthwest.com March 2008: Southwest Airlines, a discount airline that serves almost 100 million customers annually, many of them fanatically devoted, has maintained a spotless safety record since the company was started in 1971. SW was recently charged with violating Federal Aviation Administration regulations regarding airline inspections in 2007 on 46 Boeing 737s. The FAA is fining Southwest $10.2 million, the biggest fine ever imposed on any U.S. airline. The airline’s response has been to initiate an internal investigation and put three employees on administrative leave. It also temporarily grounded 44 planes. Southwest has 30 days to decide if it will challenge the FAA's findings or the penalty. You are Southwest’s Director of Corporate Communications. You’ve been responding to dozens of press requests for interviews. The story has been front-page news in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and on the networks. You are also responsible for the corporate blog: Nuts About Southwest. The blog, the first one started by an airline, is one of the more popular and active corporate blogs with new postings almost daily. It was started in April 2006 and sold to upper management as “just another communications tool.” Readers have left thousands of comments on topics relating to SW’s business practices, service and culture. All comments are screened before being posted. Negative comments are allowed. The blog is staffed by two editors and is regarded as a success within the company. Internally it is seen as a virtual focus group, offering instant feedback from customers. What is the role of SW’s corporate blog during this crisis? Should the blog be breaking news about how SW is handling the crisis? Or should it lag behind traditional media outreach (press conferences, etc.) How does corporate culture play into the success (or lack thereof) of a corporate blog? What do you expect to be your biggest headache in terms of overseeing the blog during this crisis? What other social media channels might SW use during this crisis? (Twitter? Wikipedia?) 202.255.1467 wordbiz@gmail.com site: www.debbieweil.com blog: www.BlogWriteForCEOs.com
  2. 2. Recommended Reading Books Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (publication date: April 21, 2008) Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin (his newest book; also check out his other books) Now Is Gone by Geoff Livingston & Brian Solis (examples of how companies are using social media) The Corporate Blogging Book by Debbie Weil (both strategic and tactical; what it all means) The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott (excellent reference book) Blogs about corporate communications and social media Alltop’s selection of top social media blogs: http://socialmedia.alltop.com/ BlogWrite For CEOs by Debbie Weil (focuses on corporate & CEO blogging) www.blogwriteforceos.com Buzz Bin by Geoff Livingston (boutique PR shop specializing in social media) www.livingstonbuzz.com/blog Communication Overtones by Kami Huyse (PR consultant) http://overtonecomm.blogspot.com Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang (a Forrester analyst) www.web-strategist.com 202.255.1467 wordbiz@gmail.com site: www.debbieweil.com blog: www.BlogWriteForCEOs.com 2

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