#ImportanceofPR Rebuilding Delta’s Reputation

BY: SAMANTHA MURPHY

It’s no news that Delta Airlines has struggled in keeping their customers loyal within these past few months. From aggressive customer interactions to Delta’s “meltdown” when confronted with a storm in Atlanta, the recent backlash has challenged the company in upholding their brand’s reputation.

One of the largest dilemmas was experienced when severe weather conditions hit Atlanta, Georgia. While it’s expected for there to be complications for any airline during any storm, it took Delta much longer than anticipated to get back on track. The airline canceled about 3,000 flights in one week, causing a massive shutdown that cost the company millions of dollars.

The root of the problem was that through the continuous delaying of flights that prevented members of the flight crews, who were tightly scheduled to jump from one plane to the next, from doing their job. In other words, a domino effect was created.

A flight would be announced as delayed, so that flight would land later than originally planned, which caused another flight to become delayed in waiting for those crew members to arrive from the first flight. This commotion went on for days as Delta predicted the repercussions they’d face with hundreds of dissatisfied travelers on their hands.

Later that month, another altercation occurred when a video went viral of a man being asked to exit his flight. Kima Hamilton had asked to go to the bathroom while the plane was getting ready to take off and was told by an attendant he must remain seated. After a considerable amount of time, the plane had still not taken flight, and Hamilton took advantage of this delay to use the restroom. He had explained to the attendant that it was an emergency, yet was still instructed to leave the aircraft for not obeying authority. The disturbance not only ended in every passenger having to get off of the plane and reboard but also caused a major uproar of people who witnessed the incident on social media and sided with Hamilton.

It soon became clear that Delta was drowning and desperately needed saving. That’s where the power of Public Relations and its influence over consumers came into play. Delta has recently partnered with Vice Media to create a plan called “The Delta Launchpad.” This plan specifically targets young entrepreneurs who may travel often for business purposes and catches their attention with free events. These events were scheduled to take place in three cities key to Delta’s market: Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle.

In the same way that traveling enhances a person’s perspective on culture and the arts, Vice attempted to bring this same sense of entertainment right at home with the use of film, music, and food. The outdoor festivities consisted of music workshops, live performances, panel discussions, screenings and more. Tom Punch, Chief Commercial and Creative Officer of VICE Media, commented on the vision for this plan by saying, “More and more, we’re witnessing young people spending their most precious resources, money and time, to travel to far-flung places and cultural epicenters for the best that music, film, and food have to offer. These experiences indulge their passions but often also shape their future careers. We hope this program becomes both an inspiration and a launchpad for young entrepreneurs across the cultural spectrum.”

Vice’s campaign purpose to strategically cultivate young people’s interests, while also attracting new potential customers has slowly begun to earn back some respect for Delta’s reputation. And while Delta’s road back to success is certainly a long one, the crises the company has faced followed by their partnership with Vice is yet another example of how Public Relations always swoops in to save the day!

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