2008 PR News Platinum Winner: Blog

The winners and honorable mentions in this year's PR news Platinum PR awards issue exemplify the most innovative approaches to redefining traditional PR with anything-but- traditional strategies. From a marketing communications effort that united a country over the search for the stars of a 1950s TV commercial to an event that landed a flock of pink flamingos around the windy city, the following winner confirms that the PR profession has indeed stepped out from the shadows to take a front-and-center role in delivering business results to their own organizations, and to their clients. Below is the winner of the 2008 PR News Platinum PR award for blog.

Southwest Airlines

Nuts About Southwest

Southwest Airlines' "Nuts About Southwest" blog has been a digital darling ever since its inception but, never one to ride on the coattails of early success, the airline's PR team knew it needed to keep the blog fresh in order to keep it relevant. So, over the course of the past year, the execs ramped up the blog's presence to include the latest and greatest social media features.

A Real Charmer

Southwest's blog built a loyal following based on its authentic and transparent content provided by employees in all corners of the company. And, while the posts are often about what's going on within the company and the airline industry, the blog has also been a platform for candid conversations among the company's stakeholders. Case in point: one employee blogged about his first colonoscopy and, three months later, a reader called him to thank him for saving his life by inspiring him to get a checkup.

But these stories don't necessarily impact the business strategy or the bottom line; what does is the team's decision to bring together the various channels of communication it had with customers, integrating them into the blog. Among the new features:

·         A video blog;

·         Reader polls; and,

·         Options to personalize content.

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

The upgrades made to the Southwest blog proved to be worth their weight in bandwidth. The ability to customize their experience on the site drew exponentially more consumers to the site; from January 2007 to March 2007, the number of visitors jumped by nearly 100%.

"We know that our people are our greatest asset," says Linda Rutherford, vice president of PR and community affairs. "The blog gives our employees a platform to share their industry knowledge, exchange personal stories and connect our customers to the Southwest culture we live and experience every day."