Wjcandee From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5155 posts, RR: 22 Posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 9780 times:
I am just shocked at how amateurish Gary Kelly's press conferences have been regarding the MDW incident, how long it took WN staff to get him up to speed to have the first one yesterday, and how lame and uninformative his conference was this morning. The press releases have been equally pathetic. Conclusion: The PR/Crisis Handling team needs to be sent packing, and some experts brought in before they destroy their reputation. Of great importance, they plainly aren't reading the articles that are flowing out on the AP, etc., and properly texturing their press releases in light of those articles.
Examples: (1) Over 12 hours after the incident, they continue to say that the Captain has "10 years flying for WN", and the F/O "more than 2 years". This is insane. Media outlets across the country accordingly keep reporting that the captain has been FLYING AIRCRAFT for 10 years and the f/o has been flying for 2 years. The strong implication is that they aren't experienced. WN should be saying something like (this is made up based upon a hypothetical captain experience level): "The captain has flown with WN for 10 years, prior to which he was a decorated Air Force pilot for 10 years, flying F16s (or whatever) and a captain at another major airline for 5 years after that. He has over 30,000 flight hours, 12000 of which are in the 737." See the friggin' difference?
(2) They should tell the media a bit more about this particular 737. And forget that the damn airline keeps giving out the tail number of a single-engine turboprop (NXXX rather than NXXXWN). They have now done it at least twice, making their CEO look awfully goofy to those in the business. Don't just tell me that it had a maintenance check in PHX a few days ago. Tell me that this model of 737 is equipped with the latest all-weather landing systems, including the ability to land in Category III conditions with as little as 50 feet of visibility and heads-up displays just like jet fighters which means that the pilot's instruments are shown right on the window as he's landing in challenging weather. Makes it sound like this discount carrier has good equipment.
(3) In describing the incident, they should, if true, indicate that the aircraft departed the far end of the runway. That's not admitting anything, since everyone can see that the damn plane is sitting in the middle of Central Avenue, just slightly to one side of the intersection. Newspapers keep reporting that the aircraft "skidded off the runway" or worse "veered off the runway", implying that it went out of control to the side of the runway. "Deadly Plane Skid" is what CNN is saying. Inexcuseable. If you give the media the words for the headline -- and it makes sense -- they will print it. If you give them information in a way that leaves them to their own devices, they will screw it up because they aren't the experts, you are.
(4) Gary is being quoted in a way that makes him sound completely stupid. There is information out there from the media reports that can be helpful that they aren't using. This "runway is too short" thing should have been shot down. Information about the last runway condition should be provided, because they have to have it by now, i.e. the latest ATIS indicated that the runway was ____, or merely that the Chicago Airport Authority has indicated, as it has, that the runway was open and suitable for use at the time of the accident. The fact that the captain always has the authority to take it to another airport if he has any concerns about landing should be made clearer, and something to the effect that at Southwest there will never be any repercussions for the Captain for doing so should be mentioned. And on and on.
These guys have been presented with an incident that, while tragic for the one kid, is basically not that bad as fatal aviation incidents go. Their completely inept handling of the PR crisis response and media is shocking considering their darling status with the media. In my view, they're going to end up turning this into something that hurts them much more than it should. Before long, the Love Field opponents are going to start kicking them over this incident, and if they can't handle THIS, they're going to get pounded on THAT.
And who taught Gary public speaking?? Stuff as simple as what clothes to wear (awful last night), what kind of background to have for the podium, and not to tilt his head down so you can see that he has no hair on the top are all basic things that a CEO should have had some training in, or should have been handled before they put him out there. Had this been a contentious accident in which passengers died, they'd be in really serious trouble.
Again, their PR response has been pretty good for a Third World Airline. It's been awful for a major American carrier that is beloved by the media. They doubtless had a crisis plan on the shelf, and it seems like pages are falling out of the notebook or weren't there in the first place.
Wjcandee From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5155 posts, RR: 22
Reply 1, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 9745 times:
Now CNN is reporting from the radar track online that the plane was "travelling too fast". "Why did the plane speed up right before landing?" Outrageous. We all know that that information is crap, and only the FDR information is going to be useful. They need to be spanked. Where is the PR Staff to keep these idiots from spinning out of control?
No publicly-traded company can afford to do this. Business schools teach case studies on crisis management for that reason. We wouldn't be using Tylenol today if Johnson & Johnson had followed this advice.
Junction From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 766 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 9553 times:
I kind of agree with this. We would expect much more organization with regard to the release of information from a company like WN.
I was also surprised by the person WN had live on the phone last night with WGN-TV. The "WN spokesperson" had vocabulary like an 80s "Valley Girl" and cheerfully boasted there were no deaths or injuries. I was embarrassed for her comments, because the viewers knew more about the situation then she did just by watching the pictures on the screen. I guess this is why airlines will usually instruct their employees to refer any media inquires to their respective Corporate Communications Department.
Tornado82 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 9455 times:
Quoting Wjcandee (Thread starter): Tell me that this model of 737 is equipped with the latest all-weather landing systems, including the ability to land in Category III conditions with as little as 50 feet of visibility and heads-up displays just like jet fighters which means that the pilot's instruments are shown right on the window as he's landing in challenging weather. Makes it sound like this discount carrier has good equipment.
MDW has no Cat III, so even if the plane had Cat III its worthless there. Midway is a Cat I airport www.airnav.com/airport/KMDW. And I'm sure if he had said that, A.netters would be on his butt for saying Cat III when MDW is not Cat III equipped. Also, RVR's were in the 3000-5000 ft range all evening. Mins are 300-3/4
Quoting Wjcandee (Thread starter): And who taught Gary public speaking?? Stuff as simple as what clothes to wear (awful last night),
Well, I thought that too that his speaking wasn't "perfect" but he's flying by the seat of his pants too, and considering it was 10:30pm local, I'm surprised Gary even spoke and didn't just have one of his trained monkeys speaking as most other CEO's would do, he wouldn't even come out till morning.
So?!?! He's balding. Who cares?!? I hope you never lose hair.
The issue is a 737 landing on a snow covered, short runway, with a slight tailwind, in relatively low vis conditions, crashed and killed a young boy in a car on the street. Another issue is that Gary himself mentioned the plane had 35min of fuel left at landing after doing a few laps of hold (somewhere over Lake County, IN, I forget which hold that is)... that wasn't really enough to get to IND/MKE even with still enough for a MAP, was it?
Regardless, Gary's attire or bald spot is not the issue here. Sheesh, and you people say I hate Southwest. This is thread is just crazy. About the only place they can be faulted is for allowing CNN to continue to spew the falsehoods around.
Planespotting From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 3527 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 9368 times:
Quoting Wjcandee (Thread starter): Again, their PR response has been pretty good for a Third World Airline. It's been awful for a major American carrier that is beloved by the media. They doubtless had a crisis plan on the shelf, and it seems like pages are falling out of the notebook or weren't there in the first place.
the claims you are making are outrageous. The Gary Kelly you saw speaking is who Gary Kelly is. He dressed like Gary Kelly does, he looks like Gary Kelly, he talks like Gary Kelly...who the F*ck do you expect him to be? In a crisis like this, people want to hear straght from the top...which is why the CEO of Southwest Airlines was speaking to the media last night. Gary Kelly always dressed like that. He did a pretty decent job at the press conference. I've dealt a lot with PR over the past few years and there is nothing overtly terrible or even bad that Southwest has done to handle the PR of this situation....yet. They also cannnot control how the media quotes them, but really, the media has not lashed out at all against southwest and is doing a relatively good job reporting the story so far!
In a lot of ways they can't comment on things because THEY DON'T KNOW. They probably don't know the exact number of hours the pilot has right after this incident happens...Pilots keep their own logs up to date and don't need to inform the company of the number of flight hours they have experienced. I don't understand the assertions you are making because frankly they are extremely unfounded along with crazy.
NIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 9288 times:
WN's handling of this incident has not been very good. I think the unprofessionalism is nothing to be surprised about. They don't know what to say since the fault may lie with their crew, he either landed too fast or too long. Then experienced a snow covered runway. Let us give him the benefit of the doubt until we find out the facts. Though the wx and pilot error seem to be the logical cause.
Luv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12103 posts, RR: 49
Reply 10, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 9204 times:
Quoting Planespotting (Reply 7): In a lot of ways they can't comment on things because THEY DON'T KNOW. They probably don't know the exact number of hours the pilot has right after this incident happens...Pilots keep their own logs up to date and don't need to inform the company of the number of flight hours they have experienced. I don't understand the assertions you are making because frankly they are extremely unfounded along with crazy.
I have to agree here. The event just happened and answering questions that they do not have the answer to, could and will cause problems down the road for them.
To be honest with you since WN does have such a stellar safety record they really do not have a lot of experience in this matter to draw from.
PlanesNTrains From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 5504 posts, RR: 29
Reply 11, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 9196 times:
Quoting Tornado82 (Reply 5): Sheesh, and you people say I hate Southwest. This is thread is just crazy. About the only place they can be faulted is for allowing CNN to continue to spew the falsehoods around.
I don't get the impression that he hates Southwest - otherwise he wouldn't have been frustrated with their respnnse. Instead, he would have simply attacked, which you might feel he's doing, but it's not the same.
As far as CNN et al, I think that's his overrall point - they're not getting out in front of it like he believes they should be. I'm not really on top of it, as I only caught a little bit of the coverage last night, so don't have an opinion one way or another.
OPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 9168 times:
Quoting Tornado82 (Reply 5): MDW has no Cat III, so even if the plane had Cat III its worthless there.
While MDW might not have a CAT-III approach per se, it does have an ILS-Z approach to 31C that takes you down to RVR3000 if you have a HUD. ATA pioneered use of this approach at MDW, and SWA was also able to take advantage of it once they too got HUDs.
Hiflyer From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 2172 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 9106 times:
I find this thread quite interesting with the thread starter premise fairly correct.
Southwest is not a little airline...why act like it? They have far more accurate details on background and history...why not use it? They have been called some of the smartest people in the industry lately...why not show it?
One possible reason may have been the initial defense of the crew at Burbank several years back burned them when the crew became entirely culpable due to their approach. However, issues were raised then by the press and from within the industry about the fabled "Southwest mentaility" of quick taxiing, quick approaches, and other methods of saving time.
Perhaps what we were seeing is the begining of the defense against the eventuality of those issues being raised again....play it lowball and not capable yet of the sharp questions.
Tornado82 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 9025 times:
Quoting OPNLguy (Reply 12): it does have an ILS-Z approach to 31C that takes you down to RVR3000 if you have a HUD.
Now that makes sense, considering the Vis/RVR's were less than 3/4mi most of last night, which were the published mins on the Airnav approach plate. I was thinking maybe the RVR's had sneaked up to 4500 in time for that approach or something... considering I was just deciphering METAR's / SPECI's and not the real-time ATIS/tower info.
S12PPL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 8979 times:
I think you are going a little over board with attacking WN's PR staff. Why do you care so much what they say? It isn't your airline, so what's the big deal? If they are really doing such a horrible job, then people will refuse to fly them. But, let's face the facts. WN will not likely go under from this one incident. That is very un-likely. I think you have too much time on your hands if you can sit here and rag this much on WN...Then you need to find a hobby
Slider From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6799 posts, RR: 34
Reply 20, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 8762 times:
I discount the excuse that they don't have "experience" with a catastrophic incident.
That's why we have safety sciences, advanced discplines of safety program management, emergency response programs and why each airline should PRACTICE and DRILL consistently to get things like this right.
There's no free pass for bobbling things like this regardless of who you are.
AsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 8699 times:
The media seems to WANT to screw things up. Newspaper and TV crews have chopped up my interviews during emergency calls so bad that I now refuse to comment. They seem to report what they want to report and make the interviewee look stupid every time.
Falcon flyer From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 1323 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 8638 times:
Quoting NIKV69 (Reply 9): They don't know what to say since the fault may lie with their crew, he either landed too fast or too long.
It's bearly 18 hours after the incident, who on this message board is in a position to say that the landing was long or fast ? What if the PF was on speed and profile, landing in the TDZ and braking action was a factor ? Speculation is fine but it's just to early to draw such a conclusion and very unfair to the crew involved.
My definition of cool ? Not trying so hard to be cool.
Kevi747 From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 1058 posts, RR: 12
Reply 23, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 8521 times:
I actually thought the whole thing was portrayed in the best light possible. If that was a legacy airliner sitting in that intersection we would be hearing newsreports about the "crash" and not about the "hard landing" they keep talking about on the news here in D/FW.
"Reality has a well-known liberal bias." --Stephen Colbert
Wjcandee From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5155 posts, RR: 22
Reply 24, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 8413 times:
In response to a couple of comments, which I appreciate and which seem thoughtful:
(1) Obviously, I don't hate WN, nor am I pouncing on them. Frankly, I hope that someone there notices our discussion and thinks about what we are saying. Because they need some help on this.
(2) This is interesting to me in the same was that aviation generally is. We look at accidents to gain lessons learned. Corporations do the same thing with the PR aspects of disasters and incidents, for the same reason: lessons learned protect the corporation later. There is a whole industry that has grown up to provide crisis management. The fact that southwest.com initially had an odd screen last night about a "service interruption" or some such shows that there was a plan in place that had details down to what to do/say on the web site as the thing unfolds. It's just not a sufficient plan.
(3) Southwest's people were working directly with the Department of Aviation (Chicago) immediately and were getting good marks from the City people. The Aviation people were talking positively about Southwest doing this or that or planning this or that. Two hours later, the top people in Dallas didn't have this information, or at least acted like they didn't.
(4) The press will receive a lot of information from the airline "on background". This means that you get the reporter aside and explain stuff to him or her, being fair and not shading things, so they understand the context of the information they receive. You can't avoid the bubblehead script-readers making stupid comments ("they broke the sound barrier? Why were they flying so fast?"), but the underlying reporters and producers are usually bright people who want to understand what they're talking about and if you give it to them simply, and give them some good sound bites and some perspective, you'd be surprised how helpful it can be. If you give them good background, it's helpful to them and to you. However, reporters know to consider the source, and to present a balanced story they'll get opinions from all sides. But this means that they are *expecting* Southwest to get its position out there competently, and they'll use as much of it as seems to be fair and accurate. Because Southwest is a darling, it has lots of credibility. Don't doubt for a second that Southwest's competitors and opponents aren't getting out there on background with reporters, pitching this crap about the runway length, the decision to land, the rapid growth of southwest, the previous poor decision-making at BUR, the "dangerousness" of airports in urban areas, the "experience" of pilots, etc. That's just business and politics.
(5) I'm not saying they should get out there and say "It isn't our fault", or go out of their way to defend the crew, which would be wrong. But, they need to be giving unassailable facts, accurately, that put them in the best light. An example is Gary's statement (which I personally made elsewhere as an example) that "we have been operating there for 20 years without incident". That's a factual statement that has a significant ability to counteract the runway-length issue. What Gary should have said, BTW, is "We have been operating 737s there for 20 years without incident." More directly addresses the issue.
(6) Similarly, after telling their story with unassailable facts, they need to be LISTENING to what others are saying, and getting more unassailable facts out there to keep their story on track. For example, to the runway length issue. NObody yet has made the following to important factual observations: (1) With respect to runway length, landing a 737 at Midway is just as safe as landing or taking off a 747 at OHare; (2) While there is lots of grass around the runways at, say, O'Hare, the useable safe area isn't that significant, on background you can reference the gulleys, ditches, hills, light fixtures, etc. that exist and get hit when aircraft overrrun the end, citing fatal accidents on other airlines that did exactly that (of course, only on background);
(7) They've had plenty of experiences to have given them expectations and practice on this. BUR was almost identical in terms of being a runway overrun in which no passenger died and a great photo-op for the media. It shouldn't have been hard for them to game-plan about what they should have done if someone had been killed, because someone should have been killed at BUR.
(8) As to "Gary being Gary". Swell. But don't think for a second that a CEO at any major company just walks into the job. Being groomed for being a CEO involves lots of work on one's interpersonal skills, sales skills, speaking skills and presenting skills. He may be being who he is, but who he is has been polished by years of trying to be good at his job. There are natural components of being a good leader, and there are learned components. Crisis response is a learned component, and it has rules. One is: People should look like what they are expected to look like. You don't wear a t-shirt to a funeral. The ValuJet guys initially responded to the Miami incident by holding press conferences in their casual shirts and pants, which was part of their "informal" image. That was a HUGE mistake, which hurt their credibility, and made it seem like they didn't care or weren't competent, and soon they were wearing suits and ties at press conferences. When Gary is up there representing his company, he should be putting his best foot forward in terms of presenting himself to the public, because he is, in some sense, selling himself. My point about his appearance is valid, and someone ought to tell him. He's a good-looking guy who is showing a weak side by tilting forward oddly to show off his thinning hair when he doesn't have to.
In any event, my basic point, meant to be helpful, was that a company has a specific, defined role in responding to a crisis that affects the company. And playing that role well is expected by the media and by shareholders and by employees. Why allow fear of the company to be created that will take millions of dollars of marketing to overcome? And WN isn't doing the kind of job it should be doing, and they should be getting some folks in there ASAP who can turn this ship around.
: I think this is his hobby..... If you disagree with him, say so, but it shouldn't really matter "why he cares so much" - have you read the threads on
: Shows that Southwest is thought of fondly by the media in Dallas. Here in New York, it's being portrayed as a "crash" or a "fatal accident", with the
: This type of reaction from someone of your stature is about what it's worth. similar to a dime novel, a dime attorney. You are PATHETIC. Go sue someo
: I'm not sure I understand your comment about this excerpt. I'm saying that WN is lucky that in its hometown it's well-perceived, but here far away fr
: In a time of crisis, he needs to stand up as a firm leader and a figure of authority. He did not come across as one. Then it's time to do something a
: He did say that... "It's a safe airport where we've had a fine operation in the city of Chicago for 20 years" I believe is what he said. Same basic i
: WJ, You get my vote for the "Mr. Blackstone Ultimate Shallowness" award. Public flogging because Gary had the audacity to show his bald spot on nation
: The ironic thing is if that Gary showed up in a button down suit and all styling people would be finding fault with that also. I believe he showed up
: Tornado: I agree that the Dallas characterization is too soft. I also think that the "Deadly Crash in Chicago" that I heard on NY1 a minute ago is ov
: Respectfully, that's not right. This is a billion-plus-dollar corporation. Part of any crisis plan should be appropriate attire sitting in a closet a
: Since I don't watch television, I missed Kelly's bald spot. However, I was impressed that Southwest's website homepage last night by 11 pm or so EST f
: Fine, I will call you shallow. And Pathetic. 1. A trajedy occurred 2. It occurred after normal business hours 3. Details are sketchy. 4. Information
: Or just go out there and do what you feel is best, after all your the boss for a reason. He already got the job, he is not running for public office.
: Sorry. This is an event that one can completely anticipate. It occurred at 7-something local time at WN's headquarters. Being a top-notch CEO, I am s
: Wjcandee: The details that were provided were all that could be provided. If information was limitied it is only because scum-sucking ,ambulance-chasi
: I couldn't agree more with almost everything that you said. I am making a different point. You can't sit by and let the story spin out of control. Th
: This is just another pointless, negative, counter-productive, WN bash thread by someone who has a bone to pick with the airline. There was an accident
: in visual conditions, landing without looking at an approach plate is a synch!
: Wjcandee, I'm afraid I couldn't disagree more. What matters is that they show they care, and that they will be there to stand by anyone injured or ki
: Right now the NTSB lady is saying hte touchdown was normal.. Speeds were standard for the type, etc etc.. all accordign to the FDR.. She's also saying
: As a former newspaper reporter myself, I can attest that Wjcandee is, as always, spot on. Thank you for making the points above. I think the signific
: I appreciate your thoughts, Bob. However, do note that I consistently say that they should be providing "unassailable facts" as background. Not spin.
: Im not going to blame the pilots till I have all the facts, but I think that Midway wasn't designed for jets. The runways are way to short they need t
: The airline is a steamroller... People will continue to fly People who like the airline will still fly it, no matter what. WN has excelent safety reco
: Actually a WN captain on this website commented about a week ago in another thread that since the Burbank incident, the company has completely retrai
: You know, that's a wonderful observation. Having dealt with the media my entire professional life and having a sense of their expectations, I guess I
: Just for your information, MSNBC this evening praised WN's handling of the situation, the fact the Gary Kelly was up straight away in Chicago, answeri
: Well, we can definately determine that the landing was long....it ran off the end of the runway! the questions are where did the aircraft touch down
: Good for them. But what MSNBC is praising them for are just basics. You don't "hide behind" media consultants. You get them to give you input, vet yo
: I find it amazing that people put such extensive effort into bitching about Southwest's decision to focus on the accident, and suggest that the airli
: Though I'd rather not share my opinion on the subject at hand, I would like to offer my kudos to almost everyone who has added to this thread today. I
: Wjcandee, What most people do not realize is that any statement made by the company at this time can and will be used in litigation that is sure to fo
: I respect your point of view, but allow me a couple of thoughts: Nobody in the general public or media cares about this. When you're the head guy, thi
58 We're Nuts
: Wjcandee, which airline do you run?
: what did the pilots that landed B737s just before the WN flight think about the runway? they thought it was fine? oki?
: Without question, particuarly if he were to have made some admission of liability. As you point out, I'm focusing on some basic stuff that they could
: Well, any of you that criticize the way Kelly has handled this situation is an idiot. How would YOU handle it? What no one has yet brought to light is
: I have said how he could have handled it better. My thoughts were offered in an effort to be helpful. In order to identify the problem, one has to st
: And WHO in the hell are you to make criticisms? You're the CEO of what?
: Were all welcome to our opinion, even though mine is you are so off the money here. And from reading the posts I am not the only one who feels this w
: Are you really telling me to "shut up"? Do I have some obligation to listen? Can't we continue the debate even if you don't want to participate?
: There's nothing like sitting around here reading all the arm-chair airline executives discussing how things SHOULD be done. Especially those of you th
: These kind of personal attacks really undermine the rest of your position.
: And if you continue the debate by doing nothing more than quoting that particular soundbite, it undermines your position and enforces mine.
: This is extremely childish... I personally think that Wjcandee is spot on and that the vast majority of posters here have misunderstood him anad taken
: While I agree with some of the points of the original poster (esp. the N417 vs. N417WN or whatever -- it's an ok mistake in the heat of the moment, bu
: I most certainly not telling you to shut up, we are all free to debate and as evidence here some opinion are very strong. And if you take the time to
: Well spoke! The old reporter in me cringes when I read comments that completely misapprehend the role of the media and the delicate ballet between re
: Well Luv, these guys are merely able to sit in an ivory tower casting aspersions at all others without basis in fact. They can't debate, they can mer
74 We're Nuts
: There are only a few people here who really understand Southwest. If you do, and I'm sure OPNLguy and 2H4 and others will agree with me here, it isn't