2009 PR People Awards: Spokesperson of the Year

Chris Mainz, Public Relations Specialist, Southwest Airlines Company

As spokesperson for the largest airline in terms of customers carried, Mainz’s experience and in-depth media relationships have guided his company through many challenges. Yet the unflappable Mainz is invariably on top of the facts and always has a creditable way of delivering his messages. He is key to maintaining Southwest Airlines’ reputation in an ever-changing environment.

Tamping Down Controversy

When Southwest Airlines decided to create a new system that would reduce flights on routes that were in low demand, while creating additional routes for busier destinations, Mainz defused the potential firestorm with assurance. And as a result, he got quoted in more than 400 articles in 2008.

That calm, collected manner came in handy again this past October, when a mother and her loud toddler son were booted from a Southwest flight because passengers could not hear preflight safety announcements. Mainz expertly offered a heartfelt apology, a refund and a $300 travel voucher.

He also has shown innovative thinking for projects, such as the opening of a new route for Southwest Airlines: Minneapolis/St. Paul. Remaining sensitive to Northwest Airlines, which was recently purchased by Delta, Mainz strove to position Southwest’s entrance into this new market as a positive advantage for that city’s travelers.

Who Needs Sleep!

In addition to his spokesperson duties, Mainz also helms Southwest Airlines’ Speaker’s Bureau, which takes in more than 150 requests a month. He also manages the internship communications program, weeding through a slew of resumes to identify ideal candidates. â– 

Honorable Mention

Stacy DeBroff, CEO Mom Central Consulting

Leading a firm dedicated to helping clients like Kimberly-Clark, Disney Cruise Line and Ocean Spray reach the 75 million-strong mom market, Stacy DeBroff and her team tap a network of mom influencers, experts and opinion leaders to help spread the word traditionally and via social media. These efforts are supported by targeted research and panel groups.