PR Proposal to an Airline Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

PR proposal for revitalizing the public image of United Airlines. It has 9 sources.

The airline industry has always been susceptible to terrorist events such as hijacks. Depending upon the magnitude of the terrorist act, the airlines functioning in the industry are pointed fingers at for having an infrastructure allowing a breach in security. A relatively small event of an airline being hijacked may only target the particular airline for blame. However, a terrorist event with magnitude as great as September 11, the whole airline industry functioning is targeted for blame. Therefore it is the responsibility of the airlines functioning in the country to coordinate efforts, resources and programs in order to implement a greater level of security of passengers. Provisions to eliminate the probability of terrorist activities must be made by each airline in the industry.

The aforementioned are the tangible provisions airlines must introduce to counter the tangible harms from the terrorist attacks. However an intangible harm those airlines incur due to such attacks is the damaged public image. If uncontrolled, the damaged public image holds the capacity to rage disaster for the particular airline. Therefore it is of foremost importance for airline to invest in their public relations in order for sustainability of the airline within the industry.

This paper is a Public Relations (PR) proposal to an airline that has a damaged public image. An airline is selected and the events are identified which have created the circumstance which led to the problematic public image within the industry. Further, based on the theoretical framework, the proposal conducts an a) research (to defining public image, outlining objectives of research, expected outcomes of the research, research methodology, the questions asked in research). The b) objectives of the PR program are discussed in detail, along with the c) strategy adopted to achieve the objectives. The proposal also discusses the d) implementation of the PR program. Finally, the proposal spotlights how the e) evaluation of the programs will be conducted.

About United Airlines

United Airlines is one of the biggest airlines in the industry. The airline caters to a broad category of consumers within and outside the United States. United Airlines is one of the participants of the Star Alliance and other alliances across the globe. This has allowed the airline to expand the range of destinations in the network of the airlines. The airline provides its consumers with a reach of over five-hundred destination across six continents around the globe. For consumer convenience, the airline has put booking and information services online on its web site: (

United Airline and Public Relations

The company has over 70 years of community service experience. This has been significant in defining the public image of the company for over the years. However, the company has had more than its share of adversities affecting the public image of the airline. In 2000, United Airline developed public relation problems. The report by Amy Bryer and Cathy Proctor (2000) identifies these problems including bad customer services delivered by the company on the cancellation of 2,000 flights due in September 2000. Many critics argued that the company would never be able to shed off the shattered public image.

The then-existing situation already damaged the public image of the company when a bigger hit to the public image was lurking around the following year. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 involved two planes from the fleet of the airline. Both the planes were hijacked; one was led to crash into the World Trade Center while the other was forcibly "crashed into the ground outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania" [Massey 2003]. As two of the four planes involved in the September 11 event came from United Airline, the airline public image stooped to a great extent.

Following the September 11 incident, many other mishaps triggered for United Airlines. The airline had to cut down a significant number of employees and stop function of many flights for safety purposes. The public had lost confidence in the airline industry generally, and particularly in United Airlines as the terrorists had managed to exploit the breach in security of the airline. The distrust of consumers in the American airline had cut down the reliance of consumers on the airline as ticket sales dropped.

Besides the shattering relationship with employees (due to downsizing) and also with consumers due to the terrorist events, United Airlines suffered another blow in its public image with the announcement of bankruptcy of the airline. It is important to observe here that due to events in the past, the airline does not enjoy a good reputation with any of the entities it interacts with, i.e. consumers, employees or even the stakeholders.

Concisely, United Airlines has been facing many problems with its public image. There is urgency for the airline to rectify its public image as the existing image might limit the operations or existence of the company in the international airline industry.

To resolve this issue a Public Relations Proposal has been prepared for United Airlines. This proposal presents the options available to the airline to revitalize its PR strategy. The proposal initiates with research that lays the theoretical framework leading to a strategy program that would allow the company to implement in the short and long run.


Objective of the Research

The objective of the research is to foreground the importance of public image for organizations. Further, the research intends to lay the theoretical framework by identifying theories and models that advocate the importance of restoring the image of United Airline. The activities involved in this section will identify the successful image management (particularly restoration of image) of other airlines within the same industry. The theoretical framework and the research findings will offer a direction for the development of an effective image management program for United Airlines.

Importance of Public Image

The public image of an organization is closely related to the survival of the business in an industry. An improved public image increases the chances of business catering to consumers that have already utilized the organization's products/services. This further increases the chances of gaining consumers loyalty if the public image of the organization is sustained. With a sustained public image, organizations have the chance of increasing the number of loyal consumers of organizations' offerings, consequently improving the chances of businesses to maximize their profits and reduce costs by achieving economies of scale.

It is important for organizational success that organizations maintain an effective image among the stakeholders. Organizations are much dependant upon their stakeholders for sustainability within the industry. Therefore organizations with better image in front of their stakeholders have greater chances of success. Even though the failure is not certain once an organization has a tarnished image, several studies have shown that such organizations are more likely to fail [Massey 2003].

Theoretical Framework

Organizational Image Management Theory

The image management of an organization is a process that involves the communication of the organization with its stakeholders in order to define, re-define or vitalize the image of the organization. Moffitt (1994), Ginzel, Kramer, and Sutton (1993) all have presented arguments acknowledging that the stakeholders/top managers of an organization and the organizational audience participate in the social construction of the organizational image. Therefore, image management is more of a dialogic process. Therefore it is important that both the entities involved in image management agree on a particular image for the organization.

Image Management Model

Driven from the organizational image management theory, the model suggests that organizations, along with their stakeholders must manage the image of the organization. According to the model for managing the organization's image, an image must firstly be created; secondly, it is of great importance for organizations to maintain this image; and lastly, in case crisis have occurred, organizations must restore the image of the organization. (Massey, 2001; 2002; 2003)

Questions used in Research

As the research intends to identify successful image management (particularly restoration of image) of other airlines within the same industry, researchers need to formulate specific questions to wield the information from these airlines. The questions need all the information they can get from the respondents, therefore the questions are styled to be more open ended. Some of these questions are listed below:

How many crises the airline has faced in the past?

What was the nature and extent of these crises?

Which of these crises was most adverse for the public image of the airline?

What image restoration program was used by the airline to counter the image-related problem?

How did the airline estimate/evaluate the affect of the image restoration program on the consumers?

How effective was the program?

What alternative image restoration programs were devised for restoring the image of the organization?

Which of the image restoration of programs has the airline found to be most affective in particular crises situations in the history of the airline in public relations?

What is the measure/extent of resource that has been used in the rectification of the image of the…

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