How one email cleared the media skies for American Airlines

July 11, 2022

Like a lot of major corporations, American Airlines gets a lot of press. These days, much of it is bad, with canceled flights and ongoing pay issues with pilots. Like the other airlines, American is definitely struggling to keep the trust of customers, regulators, and employees.

But on July 8, we helped some of that bad news get a little better. Axios, a prominent media outlet, published an article about a tech snafu which resulted in 12,000 temporarily cancelled flights. The article framed the issue around a pilot pay dispute, and framed American as having plenty of money by pointing to its $9 billion in Q1 2022 revenue. However, we noticed that America’s net revenue was a loss of $1.6 billion – important context for the reader.

We sent the reporter an email, and Axios updated the article a few hours later. The reporter later thanked us for providing the tip.

American Airlines isn’t a client; nor are we taking sides in the ongoing consumer/pilot/airline battles. We just saw an opportunity to give readers critical context about an important issue.

Why driving your narrative matters

Any company could have found itself in American’s shoes: Being framed negatively because critical information is missing in the press.

Media outlets won’t always get it right, so you have to have a team driving your narrative by:

  1. Building relationships with reporters, editors, and other gatekeepers. The more they trust you, the more they’ll give you a chance to provide your narrative and message on stories about you, the competition, and the industry.
  2. Providing great stories for them to use. Personal relationships are important; and they are even more impactful when you help reporters do their job. Just as your sales department drives your narrative by solving prospects’ problems, a great media team drives your narrative by solving the media’s need for valuable stories.
  3. Following up on stories that need context or corrections. Sometimes, a simple e-mail is all it takes.

You would expect your sales team to address a disgruntled client’s concerns to ensure that they are as happy as possible, and to learn what your team did wrong.

Likewise, you don’t want to let media mistakes linger. The Internet lives forever, and you have two choices: make a phone call or email which takes minutes, may fix the problem, and will improve your relationship with key media influencers. Or, let your bad news languish in perpetuity, and risk burning trust with a potential customers, investor, or employee.

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