Go Digital Or Go Home: Ramping Up Crisis Communications Online

When American Airlines began grounding its fleet of M-80s on April 8, 2008, due to necessary wire inspections, travelers across the country collectively grumbled--loudly--about yet another crisis in the airline industry that precipitated massive delays and nearly 3,300 flight cancellations. While the situation probably doesn't come as a surprise to many (inconveniences and air travel go together like peas and carrots), it is representative of a larger challenge for communications executives in all industries: A crisis erupts and their organization is, at least on some level, an innocent bystander, and they are left to pick up the pieces. In the case of the grounded M-80s, consider Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to be the scapegoat that fills this "innocent bystander" role: As a main hub of American Airlines, hundreds of thousands of travelers were stranded in the airport, and they were looking for someone--anyone--to blame. "Basically, from a legal standpoint, the airport doesn't have much responsibility when something [like this] happens--the airlines do," says Ken Capps, VP of public affairs for DFW International Airport. "But there's a lot of confusion in that.

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