Tag Archives: Southwest Airlines

Can you really block my voice?

Q: What  might Tehran and Southwest Airlines have in common?

(No, it’s not another ‘peanuts’ joke.)

A: An intolerance with passengers text-chatting online.

Dan York, a tech strategist, author and blogger discovered to his dismay that while Southwest had begun a WiFi Zone on board some of its flights, (and is big on, and well known for using Twitter,) it cut out Skype chat.

But blocking speech at 30,000 feet is the least of our worries in a world that is increasingly intolerant of dissenting voices. It took on a new dimension in Iran this week, in the aftermath of the highly contested elections.  The Associated Press reports that the government has stepped up its Internet filtering and Iranians are unable to send text messages from their phones. The Guardian had this to say:

“Mobile phone text messages were jammed, and news and social networking websites – including the Guardian, the BBC and Facebook – as well as pro-Mousavi websites were blocked or difficult to access.”

But can a government really ‘block’ people’s voices in this age of leaky media. While Twitter  is being blocked in Iran, some tweets that get through publish the addresses of proxy servers that can be accessed undetected.

Someone uploaded —to Flickr! — this screen capture (left) of tweets found using the hash tag #iranelection.

And then the opposition candidate MirHossein Mousavi has been tweeting, as we know.

Despite all this other forms of technology –including jamming –are being used to circumvent the government clampdown.

Even Arab satellite TV news station Al-Arabiya was shut down.

I don’t think we will see an end to governments trying to curb dissent using intimidation and technology, but these events are unwittingly providing those who favor democratic processes good examples of how best to adapt to the next clampdown, the next autocrat, the next crisis.


Tags: , ,

Would you let an intern run an event?

For all the talk of the bottom-up communications and letting go of the command-and-control buttons, not many organizations would want to let a newbie run the show. It’s too risky, they’ll tell you.

I could afford to talk. We let students take controls –literally — at the Decision Theater. Student workers and interns aren’t here to handle the low-end stuff. They take control of the visualizations in the control booth, they also do presentations, and even work on back-end, in coding and creative.

So this post by an intern, on the Southwest Airlines blog, Nuts About Southwest, illustrated it better I’ve ever seen. Ray Buffington is a PR intern.  He created a PR event without a manager second guessing him, even though she “was available to tap into.”

Would you let an intern loose on your PR? or is your PR department such a fiefdom that no one without a communication degree is allowed near? Let alone let an intern take charge of the message.

I have been tracking Nuts for a while now, and they never cease to surprise. Great work!

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 27, 2008 in Social Media



Southwest Airline keeps up the conversation

With apologies to T.S. Eliot, March is the cruelest month of the year.

One week before the other Eliot stepped down in the middle of a scandal, and Geraldine Ferraro played an “accidental” race card,” Southwest Airlines put three employees on paid leave and grounded 41 planes. With such an inspired management team, it has never needed to get to this level of damage control. At the Southwest blog, Nuts About Southwest, they have done an admirable job of addressing unflattering issues in the past. They are one of the few companies that allow employees and not just the marketing or PR types to be the voice of the organization. But on this issue, the lawyers seem to have been dragged in and scuttled the bloggers to the back of the plane.

Last week’s post “We take safety seriously” (about a voluntary disclosure by the airline of cracks in 2007) began with “Friends…” but had language that was more lawyered than the usual blog talk from pilots, ground staff and flight crew. This week the blog was a cut-and-paste outlet for its press releases.

Through all this, one thing they are doing a great job of is allowing readers/passengers to leave comments, many of them unflattering. Some readers have challenged the critics, but at least there is a conversation going on.


Tags: , , ,

Things that made us go “huh?” in 2007

Oh, what a year it was. Between freedom of information faux pas, a fake press conference, and a shiny new new object from Apple, we obsessed about these stories:

The amazing role that social media played in letting the world know about the violent reaction to the peaceful protests in Burma, in September

Larry Craig, Republican senator for Iowa, accused of soliciting sex in an airport bathroom, pleads guilty, but then attempts to deny charges.

Southwest Airlines gets a passenger to change his T-shirt because of it has a slogan that could be considered rude. It also gets another passenger to get off a plane for wearing a too-revealing mini skirt. Southwest later apologized and called launched mini skirt fares.

Lisa Novak, the astronaut who drove across the country in a diaper, is arrested.

Strumpette, the PR blogger who postured about PR, resigns, and re-emerges.

FEMA holds a fake news conference after the California fires, using employees posing as journalists.

Apple fans camp outside electronics stores to be the first to buy the $600 iPhone.

Soon after this, Apple warns iPhone customers it would cripple it should they try hacking it.

Wal-mart is investigated on charges that an employee could have been spying on text messages and phone conversations between a New York Times reporter and a PR employees.

Jeff Jarvis begins to say nice things about Dell.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for Beacon, a feature that would have shared users’ personal information with others without their opting in.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio arrests the owners of a newspaper, The New Times, for refusing to submit information about the dates and times and other information about visitors to its web site. The case was later dropped.

Comcast responds to the “Comcast Must Die” angst started by Advertising Age columnist (and NPR’s On the Media co-host) Bob Garfield, saying “real world developments” such as becoming the largest cable provider makes it difficult to keep promises.

John McCain responds to a New Hampshire high school student’s question about his age with “thanks for the question, you little jerk!”

A blog calling itself Fake Steve Jobs, is tracked down to senior editor of Forbes, Daniel Lyons.

British rock band Radiohead releases its album In Rainbows online, for free, with a prompt to downloaders to pay what they want.

Earlier in the year, Prince gave away a 10-track album, Planet Earth, free through the ‘old media’ a.k.a. newspapers, The Mail on Sunday.

The protest by Londoners over the ‘ugly’ 2012 Olympic logo. The wisdom of the crowds was ignored. The logo remained unchanged.

Barry Bonds if pleads “not guilty.” Don Imus is fired by CBS, and returns to radio via an ABC affiliate.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Flight attendants on Southwest are never “on message.” That’s a good thing.

No matter what I have said about Southwest Airlines, I have to hand it to their flight attendants for not indulging in corporate-speak. Nor communications guide in their back pocket. No tact, even. At least they don’t talk as if someone gave them a work off a template.

Carole Adams shares this exchange (and many others) in Nuts About Southwest:

Passenger: Do I have to sit in the middle seat? (Last available seat)
Adams: When you’re the last one to the dinner table for Sunday dinner, you don’t get the best piece of chicken.

Now, if marketing had to craft that exchange,it would have been something like:

“Company policy on free seating allows passengers to adopt boarding strategies that ensure they get the seating most compatible with their desired flying experience.”

And the legal department?

“The rights of a legitimate ticket holder on any of the 3,300 domestic and international flights a day, permits passenger or a nominated agent to request in advance, with no obligation or bias, a boarding pass that provides an aisle or window seat in accordance with FAA regulations and marketing policy. For further clarification, please see our marketing response – above.”

Adams wins, hands down.

1 Comment

Posted by on November 2, 2007 in Communications



Not again, Southwest airlines!

Once again Southwest Airlines attempted to make someone change his T-shirt (or wear it inside out) because it was deemed offensive. Southwest Airlines makes man change T-shirt


Southwest boots woman for T-shirt: October 2005
This was the “meet the fockers” slogan with Bush, Cheney and Rice.

Southwest fashion police set no-fly zone: Sep 2007
Just last month, the Hooters girl was asked to change her mini-skirt, or else.

On the Nuts About Southwest blog the post about that mini skirt flap got 235 comments. One commenter had this to say:

“Are your guys (no sic) in advertising there clueless? … If you really want to make a statement, create a dress code for the airline, publish it and then enforce it.”

About time, huh?

If you’d like to help craft that dress code, step this way.


Posted by on October 8, 2007 in Communications