You must need nerves of steel to work in Southwest Airlines comms department right now. Once you mount the corporate-blogging horse there’s no getting off it again. And Southwest is learning enough about what can then happen to write the ultimate book on the subject.
Yesterday they finally decided there was no choice but to temporarily ground 44 of their Boeing 737s – including 38 taken straight off the line – affected by the safety allegations that have blown up around them.
At time of writing they have 17 comments in response to the add 260 they received on their earlier posts on the issue. The 17 are markedly more negative than positive – although the hard core of support is indicative of a degree of loyalty that many other companies would struggle to secure.
Obviously this is not going to go away easily. So will Southwest have regrets over the blog. I’m pretty sure that they won’t. On balance it’s been a great tool for them in this horrendous situation.
Most importantly of all, it’s let their supporters declare their positive views in public – something that never really happens with conventional media coverage because nobody’s out looking for those people.
Barring new developments, this may be the nadir for Southwest in this saga, now it’s going to be interesting to see how they use the blog to repair the inevitable damage.