Southwest Airlines’ Low-Fare Campaign Crashes Website

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TexasEverything really is bigger in Texas….You are probably familiar with the old adage. But BIGGER doesn’t necessarily mean BETTER. In fact over the last month, several events in Texas have dominated the news. But it hasn’t been good news making the headlines. In recent weeks, the great state of Texas has dealt with the massive Blue Bell recall and subsequent production halt, the Twin Peaks shooting in Waco, the raging floods and devastation, and most recently the Southwest Airlines website crashing. The site couldn’t keep up with the surge in usage due to a 72-hour fall fare sale that launched on June 2.

Let’s focus on the latter, the Southwest Airlines website overload crisis and how the airline is handling it via social media, namely Twitter.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 8.46.08 AM I first heard about the fabulous three-day ticket sale for fall travel a couple of days ago on KCEN’s 6 p.m. newscast. This immediately sparked my interest since I’ll be traveling to the PRSA International Conference in Atlanta in the fall. The deal is only good for very specific flights, mine not included.

I wasn’t surprised to learn via Twitter that the Southwest site had been bombarded by folks trying to cash in on the low fares, so much so that the site crashed. Customers trying to take advantage of this amazing sale took to Twitter with their outrage. From a PR standpoint, Southwest Airlines handled the tweets perfectly. Customers weren’t at all shy about tweeting their frustrations. Southwest didn’t delete the negative tweets. Instead the company responded to each of the tweets individually. Copy and pasting the same response to customer concerns/complaints is unacceptable when responding to customers.

By noon on June 5, the site Nuts About Southwest posted a 30-second video response from the CCO on the heels of a June 4 blog post addressing customer concerns and explaining what was being done to correct the problems that had incurred.

Ultimately, this was a self-inflicted crisis situation for Southwest. Which isn’t that big of a surprise since a huge percentage of business crises originate internally.

Take-away: The Southwest Airlines communication team should have been better prepared to handle the increased web traffic. After all, when a company offers a deal that’s almost too good to be true and the word gets out about it, expect an abundance of interest. And be prepared on all levels to handle the  firestorm on social media when customers feel wronged or misled. Preparation is and will always be KEY.


It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Networking is key.

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Whether you are a college senior on the verge of graduation or a seasoned professional looking to meet up with others working who share your passion for PR, NETWORKING is definitely the key.

I drive about 30 miles from Belton to Waco to attend CenTex Chapter of PRSA meetings. The CenTex Chapter encompasses the Waco, Temple, Belton and Killeen areas. The contacts I’ve made, the friendships I’ve forged and the speakers I get to listen to make the short trek up I-35 well worth a little drive time.

I enjoy getting the chance to meet influential PR folks (business leaders and Baylor professors) from the Waco area. CenTex PRSA holds monthly lunch meetings on the second Thursday of each month from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and feature a speaker. Last week’s speaker was Jill Anderson, a Public Relations Officer at the Methodist Children’s Home in Waco. Anderson reiterated that working for a non-profit is definitely challenging. You wear many hats. She travels to the various locations in Texas and New Mexico. She plays the role of reporter, photographer, videographer and publications editor. Her goal is to share the success stories with donors and supporters. MCH currently has a Special Events Assistant position that might be of interest to you PR majors wanting to focus on non-profit work.

The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” holds true. While your skills and knowledge are crucial to getting you in the door, it’s the connections you develop along the way that make all the difference in the world.

Don’t wait until graduation to start the networking process. START NOW!!! Take advantage of every opportunity you get, engage and participate. Although you are ‘just’ a college student, don’t hesitate to create and hand out business cards. Establish connections and maintain contact with your newly established contacts. You never know who knows who, and just where that next potential job offer might come from.

Good luck and happy networking!

Related Articles:

The Art of Networking – Q&A, Austin Business Journal

Break Out of Your Shell – PRSSA

7 Tips from Professional Networkers 

Your Next Internship Opportunity – It Could Be Lurking Just Around the Corner

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You just never know where that next big opportunity might be lurking. Take this week for example. Each semester, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been arranging for my Intro to PR class to  tour the UMHB Musick Alumni Center and Museum and learn about university-wide PR. Today as I entered the “Purple N’ Gold” meeting room on the first floor of the alumni center, I saw two new faces. Oh and did I mention I was running late. The joys of the I-35 expansion project plus a little drizzle equals a traffic nightmare – yes it can happen in the great Temple/Belton metroplex we live in. But I digress.

The two new faces just so happened to UMHB alumni. Trish Woods, UMHB Alumni Association board president, and her  Z Option co-worker Shari Alexander shared an incredible internship opportunity with my PR students. What could be better than spending an entire week at Disney’s Epcot? That question definitely got my my classes’ attention. I mean, what could be better than an all-expense paid, week-long trip to Florida for a trade show.

There’s been a lot of talk  about whether or not students should be paid for internships. In a perfect world the answer would be YES, YES, YES. But it seems to me that the experience students get shouldn’t be negated. And that’s what I stress to my students. My PR majors land internships at non-profits, firms, with campus departments, etc. More often than not, these aren’t paid internships. Never the less, the skills my students learn and the contacts they make are invaluable. Some fields just tend to offer more in the way of paid internships.

Related info:

Find an Internships That Suits Your Interests – PRSSA

Intern Match

The Intern Economy