July 10, 2018
Former Obama Spokesman Joins United Air
The United Continental Holdings group is taking the next step in their reputation management strategy this month by hiring former President Barack Obama’s previous spokesman as a new chief communications officer. The industry veteran, Josh Earnest has the potential to play a significant part in United’s leadership team as the company struggles to maintain a strong position in the marketplace.
Although United Airlines is suffering from a relatively bumpy experience reputation-wise, Josh Earnest could be the cure they’ve been looking for. Earnest has a lot of experience managing communications within an agile and volatile environment, making him a strong fit for the airline.
An Important Step Forward for United Airlines
The decision to hire Earnest comes at a time when United Airlines severely needs a strong leader in their communications strategy. During the last couple of years, the company has been suffering from a constant stream of negative press. In 2017, the public united against the organization in an outcry when the airline approved the forcible removal of a passenger from an overbooked flight. In fact, it’s safe to say that the incident is one of the biggest travel stories to emerge in 2017.
During early 2018, United Airlines were facing additional issues when a passenger’s dog perished on a flight after being forced into an overhead bin during turbulence. The industry consequently launched a discussion on how to properly transport animals by air. The airline has now updated its pet policy to ban small breeds from transport via airplane – but the damage is done already.
Hopefully, Earnest taking the helm will be a positive step forward for United Airlines. The industry expert will be taking over from former corporate communications SVP Jim Olson, who left the company in December 2017. While Olson had plenty of experience dealing with PR for companies like Starbucks in the past – his quest to bring a new era of communications to United didn’t go according to plan.
After the issue in 2017, Olson’s responsibilities shifted until he finally stepped down to pursue personal and professional aspirations outside of United Airlines.
Earnest Has a Lot of Work to Do
As Obama’s former spokesman adapts to make the most of his new role with United, he’ll be facing a lot of pretty significant tasks. For instance, Earnest needs to smooth over some of the remaining distaste that the public has towards the company following the scandals over the last couple of years. Though time is often a great healer, it’s been incredibly difficult for United to overcome the issues it has been facing throughout the last eighteen months.
Of course, as complicated as United’s reputation currently is, it’s worth noting that the recently-appointed CEO for the brand, Oscar Munoz, has begun to take many of the problems on at a personal level. In a recent press release, Earnest noted how difficult it is to cut through the chaos and noise in the modern media environment. He’ll be working to overcome the challenges of the industry alongside Frank Benenati – a spokesman who worked alongside Earnest during his time at the White House.
5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian – founder of 5W Public Relations.