Nonprofit PR Awards: Crisis Management

Winner: Airlines for America – Don’t Ground America

crisis managementIt was shaping up as the mother of all delays: The Federal Aviation Administration last April notifying Airlines for America (A4A) and airline carriers that furloughs of air traffic controllers were about to begin and that airlines should plan accordingly. With a little more than a week to prepare Airlines for America launched a public affairs campaign, "Don’t Ground America," designed to get the message out about stopping unnecessary flight delays resulting from air traffic control furloughs.

The PR effort featured a microsite enabling passengers to apply pressure to Congress, the White House, the FAA and Department of Transportation via personalized messages, while a press conference, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., attracted 40 reporters. The campaign also engaged airline carriers to warn customers about the furloughs beforehand and encourage them to take action at the gates. It also distributed emails urging airline employees to support the campaign and participate in media interviews. A4A executives played an important role, as well, conducting interviews with ABC, CBS, CNBC NBC and Fox, among other national media outlets. Combined with a lobbying endeavor, the campaign was victorious: President Obama in early May signed legislation into law to effectively end the furloughs. The communications campaign garnered nearly 89,000 site visits in eight days, with about a quarter of visitors sending opposition letters to Washington.

Honorable Mentions:

  • NYU Langone Medical Center Responds to Unprecedented Natural Disaster in NYC
  • World Vision – Superstorm Sandy


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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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