2012 Digital PR Awards: Crisis Management


Winner: American Airlines and Weber Shandwick – “Like This” American Airlines Responds Socially to Alec Baldwin Incident

Anytime a celebrity is involved with a controversy on social media, it spreads like wildfire among their thousands, and sometimes millions, of followers. So when celebrity actor tweeted that he’d been removed from his American Airlines (AA)for refusing to turn off his mobile device, not only did he become a trending topic, but American Airlines was all of a sudden in a middle of a crisis as it was flooded with tweets. 

In minutes, Alec Baldwin’s message had been retweeted by 2,722 people and would reach five million people in just a few minutes. The AA winning team of Brian Conway and Chris Vary created a plan that would acknowledge the situation, tell its side of the story, emphasizing passenger safety and FAA regulations and ensure that the best practices were taken from the incident to enhance the existing social media issues management plan.

The goal was to deliver the airlines’ side of the story to AA’s customers, news media and celebrity media. For the first time, a statement about the incident that was put on Facebook served as the primary media statement.  Reaching its set goals, AA responded to the initial tweet within five minutes, reached 75,729 people and received praise for its responsiveness.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Chesapeake Energy - Responding to Rolling Stone
  • Chevrolet: General Motors - Volt NHTSA Investigation
  • Hospital for Special Care - Response to Shooting at Hospital for Special Care
  • PCIAA & RMIIA  - Are You Wildfire Ready?
  • TTNET - Rate Hike Period Communications Management
  • Weber Shandwick - McDonald’s China Crisis 315 Management Leveraging Social Media


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