Coca Cola Belgian Contamination Case Summary


Lynn Luig

Coca Cola Case Summary


            The Coca Cola brand started as an experimental drink made by a pharmacist named John Pemberton, in Atlanta in 1886. Each glass was sold for five cents and he only sold about 9 glasses a day. Pemberton passed away only two years later but the Coca Cola brand continued to gain momentum. Today, Coca Cola has expanded to over 500 different brands with about 1.7 billion servings consumed every day all over the world.


            On June 14th, 2009 news media around the world began to report hundreds of “poisonings” as a result of consuming Coca Cola products. Several children in Belgium were hospitalized and over 100 students reported physical illness thought to be caused by Coca Cola drank from cans that had a foul odor on the outside. At the same time, hundreds of consumers were complaining of a strange taste and color of bottled Coca Cola. The Belgian Health Ministry ordered for all Coca Cola products to be banned from the market. Several other countries then followed suit.

Situation SWOT Analysis


            Coca Cola had built a reputation over time as being a trusted leader in management and globalization. It has proven that quality of its products is a priority and has benefitted lucratively from this success. In 2009, net operating revenues were approximately $21.6 billion. Their marketing team is strong and their public relations team has experience with crises in the past.



            At this time in Belgium, the nation was recovering from several outbreaks of food contamination. One of these frightening pandemics was mad cow disease. Citizens in Belgium were extremely sensitive to rumors of contamination in any product that they consume. Also, Coca Cola had to compete with social media to maintain its reputation. News of “poisonings” was spreading quickly on Facebook and natural food blogs in addition to traditional news media. They were also dealing with a rumor that Coca Cola was being used a cheap alternative to pesticides in India. Although Coca Cola had a strong marketing department, they agreed not to use media during the ban as they were responding to mandates given by the Ministry, thereby eliminating one of their strengths.


            Coca Cola had the opportunity to show concern for the well being of consumers and the general public. Their reputation for quality of ingredients and leadership in business management was being tested. If they ran a successful crisis management campaign, they could strengthen positive opinion of their business practices. Cooperation with regulations and thorough research could help the corporation come out with an even better reputation.


            The reputation of Coca Cola was on the line. If fatalities had resulted, the corporation could have lost significant stock and profits. Lawsuits were also a concern.


            Without the use of their marketing department, Coca Cola chose to cooperate with all requests by the Health Ministry. So, their first strategy was an example of the apologia theory. After the ban was lifted on June 22nd, they responded with a strong image restoration campaign.

  • On June 13th, a statement was released by the CEO (Doug Ivester) in which he announced that 15 million bottles and cans of Coca Cola products were being recalled. In the statement, he acknowledged the affected school children and the change in taste and color of Coca Cola.
  • A week after the reported illnesses, Coca Cola issued its first public statement in which they expressed regret and identified two problems that contributed to the affected products. They identified “off quality” carbon dioxide” and attributed the foul smelling cans to the vending machines they were bought out of.
  • Conditions that they start using new basic ingredients as well as discarding the old, thorough cleansing of their plants and enhancement of current safety and quality control measures were set by the ministry and immediately set into action by Coca Cola.
  • Another statement was released by the CEO announcing these efforts as well as an apology for disappointing their consumers in Belgium.
  • Additional apologies were expressed by Ivester in traditional news media and advertisements.
  • Coca Cola hosted “the Coca Cola Beach Party” in Belgium.
  • Coca Cola products were presented at over 90 locations in Belgium in what was called the “Coca Cola Summer Tour.”
  • Over 72,000 prizes were awarded to consumers at a series of promotional events.
  • Coca Cola promotions were amped up all over the world.


            By the end of the summer, research indicated that regular consumers were purchasing or intending to purchase the same amount of Coca Cola products as before the crisis. Recovery from this crisis cost Coca Cola about $200 million in expenses and decreased profits. The CEO resigned shortly after the crisis was resolved. Research concluded that the reported illness was not a result of the product but a psychosomatic reaction to the perception of a contaminated beverage. Through this experience, Coca Cola vowed to be even more diligent in quality control of their products. Several changes were made to the structure of the hierarchy of management. More power was given to local management at each of their worldwide branches.


            Coca Cola responded to this crisis with effective crisis communications but it was by no means perfect. Their response was delayed. I think they should have responded within hours of hearing about the first report of illness attributed to their product. Instead, they responded with an apology after a week. This may have been the result of their ignorance of the events as they were happening. If they had noticed sooner that they were receiving bad publicity on social networking and news sites, they could have responded quicker.

            I think that they conducted themselves with maturity and appropriate concern. They protected the company well by conducting research and cooperating 100% with the Belgian Health Ministry. I also thought it was interesting that they agreed to avoid use of marketing during the ban of their products. If they had used aggressive marketing during this stage, they might not have been viewed as sincere.

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My Coke Rewards and Twitter

Kym Robinson

Comm 642

Case Study Summary



In 1886, pharmacist John Pemberton created the syrup that later became Coca-Cola.  Pemberton’s syrup was mixed with carbonated water and first sold in Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia.  In 1888, the company was sold to Asa Candler who took the fountain drink from Georgia to some of the world’s largest markets at the time.  In 1899, two lawyers from Chattanooga, Tennessee, secured the rights to take Coca-Cola from the fountain to the bottle from Candler for only one dollar. Two centuries later, the company has over 500 brands and is sold around the world.  From a beginning of nine drinks sold a day, to the present with over 107 billion beverages sold per day, Coca-Cola has been and remains the number one global brand for beverages (Coca-Cola Heritage, n.d.).

As a part of Coca-Cola’s continued marketing efforts, the company began a consumer reward campaign. The “My Coke Rewards” campaign allows customers to register and take part in the rewards program by entering codes from fourteen different brands of Coca-Cola products.  My Coke Rewards participants are eligible for special promotions and offers.  Participants are able to enter their points at, My Coke Rewards Mobile or by text message via their cell phones, or the My Coke Rewards Facebook page. The points are then redeemable for sweepstakes, instant win games, supporting community causes, and donations to schools. The rewards program also offers the points plus pay option, where customers can use cash and points to make purchases from the My Coke Rewards merchandise catalog (My Coke Rewards – How it Works, n.d.)

Twitter is a social media network.  Twitter provides real-time information that connects its users to stories, ideas, opinions and news about what they find interesting. Users are encouraged to have followers and subscribe or follow other individuals’ accounts or business accounts, such as Coca-Cola or My Coke Rewards, they find most interesting and follow the conversations in real-time.  These conversations take place as short statements, pictures or links called Tweets.  Users can see photos, videos and conversations directly in the Tweets to get the whole story at a glance, and all in one place (About Twitter, 2012).


            The problem for Coca-Cola in this case study concerned the My Coke Rewards program.  The problem began when a member of the social media monitoring team for Coca-Cola found a Tweet from an irritated customer.   The customer was having a problem redeeming his My Coke Rewards points for his chosen prize.  Since the customer had over 10,000 Twitter followers, Coca-Cola’s head of social media deemed this situation a problem (Fearn-Banks, 2011).

Situation Analysis


Coca-Cola has many strengths. The greatest of these are its global brand and loyal customers.  In this case, the companies’ quick reaction to the issue was a strength.  Also, having a social media presence with a monitoring team and Adam Brown as the head of it was also a strength.  The team was a strength because it was doing its job and found the Twitter post (Fearn-Banks, 2011).


The difficulty with the My Coke Rewards redemption was a weakness during this case. This difficulty caused the problem (Fearn-Banks, 2011). Another weakness for the company is its presence on social media. Having a visible presence on social media opens the company up to public criticism that can be easily accessed and viewed by consumers. Without this presence, consumers would not be able to see complaints sent via mail or email.


            The company had many opportunities. They were able to quickly address the issue and show consumers they cared.  Not only did the company care about all their customers, they were willing to fix this one individual’s issue.  This was an opportunity for Coca-Cola to be seen as a problem solver.  This was also the opportunity to show the Twitter response to the Twitter poster’s 10,000 followers that the company cared and resolved the problem.


            There were several threats for Coca-Cola. If the company’s My Coke Rewards program was seen as faulty, the company could lose customers and damage its reputation.  There was the possibility of Twitter users retweeting negative comments.  The Tweet could have gone viral and been posted on other social media networks.  If news media had picked up on the story, the company could have also faced negative mainstream press about the My Coke Rewards program. There was even the possibility of litigation for fraud if the Rewards program did not actually work the way the company said it did.


Coca-Cola’s social media department was able to execute three successful strategies for the My Coke Rewards issue.

  1. The first strategy was for Adam Brown, the head of social media, to apologize on the irritated My Coke Rewards participant’s Twitter profile/timeline (Fearn-Banks, 2011).
  2. The second strategy was to post an offer of assistance on the irritated My Coke Rewards participant’s Twitter profile/timeline (Fearn-Banks, 2011).
  3. The third strategy was to help the individual attain the merchandise from the My Coke Rewards program (Fearn-Banks, 2011).


  1. Coca-Cola’s apology was seen on the timeline of the Twitter’s 10,000 followers (Fearn-Banks, 2011).
  2. The offer of assistance by the company was seen on the timeline of the Twitter’s 10,000 followers (Fearn-Banks, 2011).
  3. The irritated Twitter changed his Twitter avatar (image) to himself holding a Coca-Cola (Fearn-Banks, 2011).
  4. There was no extensive negative media coverage on the issue.


Coca-Cola has had many prodromes throughout its two centuries of existence.  I would expect Coca-Cola to have a department set aside just to address social media. Serving over 200 counties, the company must monitor all media channels in order to remain the successful global company they are today.  Coca-Cola had to apologize to the irritated consumer because they follow the Excellence Theory Model 4 – Two Way Symmetric Model of public relations.  This means that the company maintains a dialogue with its customers.  According to Fearn-Banks (2011) companies using this theory negotiate, compromise, bargain, listen and engage in a dialogue with their publics. They see and use social media for the mutual benefit of the customer and the company (p.22).  This is evident in the monitoring of social media and the company’s apology. Coca-Cola also works to prevent crisis by having a people centered corporate culture (Fearn-Banks, 2011).  Coca-Cola over the years has had an objective of building sales and gaining loyal customers. According to Fearn-Banks (2011), they should keep old customers; attract new ones, market new services and products (social media and My Coke Rewards); handle complaints quickly (Twitter case) educate consumers and organize outreach programs (My Coke Rewards) (p. 30-31).   The company must grow with the trends to remain relevant.


About Twitter. (2012). Retrieved July 19, 2012, from Twitter:

Coca-Cola Heritage. (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2012, from Coca-Cola Heritage Timeline:

Fearn-Banks, K. (2011). Crisis communication: A casebook approach (4th ed.). New

York, NY:Routledge.

My Coke Rewards – How it Works. (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2012, from My Coke


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Dance Adams

Communication 642

Coke A Cola Case



A titan in the beverage industry, Coca Cola was an up-start of Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton. John’s curiosity turned into a gold mine after carbonated water was combined with his concoction at Jacobs’ Pharmacy. The distinctive logo was created by Pembertons’ bookkeeper and is still used today.


An individual who was disgruntled with Coca Cola concerning the difficulty redeeming his prize from the “My Coke” rewards program. This patron “tweeted” his frustration to his 10,000 Twitter followers. This was caught by a Coke employee that was paid to monitor the social media sphere and worried about not only the 10,000 followers, but all the re-tweets that they could send as well.


Strengths : This was more of a PR problem rather than a product failure or injury caused by the company. Coke’s quick action and dedication to consumer expectations should be counted here as well.

Weakness : It is possible to construe that Coke was being duped by the customer into providing a prize when none is warranted, but this is not a likely scenario.

Opportunity : Coke had the opportunity to prove that it was an honest company, that genuinely cared about its customers.

Threats : The loss of brand loyalty resulting in lost revenue. Negative press and possible fraud charges if the allegation could be substantiated.


Adam Brown, Coca Cola’s social media guru, posted an apology on the customer’s twitter profile and offered to help him redeem his prize.


The prize was sent to the customer and he changed his avatar to a picture of himself holding a Coke.


There is really not much here to comment on, but maybe that is the point. I personally do not have a twitter account and I do not remember this one in the news. Suffice it to say that their strategy worked very well. This turned out to be an almost nonexistent blemish to Coke’s reputation. Especially when you compare this to the “New Coke” debacle.

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Coca-Cola Case Study

Sydney Flock


Crisis Management and Strategies


Coca-Cola Case Summary

            The Coca-Cola Company started on May 8, 1886 when Dr. John Stith Pemberton who was a local pharmacist in Atlanta, Georgia invented the syrup for Coca-Cola.  He carried a jug of the new sweet syrup down the street to the local Jacobs’ Pharmacy for anyone who wanted to sample the mysterious liquid.  At Jacobs’ Pharmacy most customers deemed it excellent and it was put on the shelf and sold for five cents as a fountain drink.  All across Atlanta gas stations and grocery stores started advertising Coca-Cola as the drink of choice for their customers.  Starting in 1886 Coca-Cola sold on average nine drinks a day up until 1887.  (  Since then Coca-Cola has came a long ways.  Pemberton sold portions of the business to numerous partners, but right before he passed in 1888 he sold the rest of the company to Asa G. Candler.  Candler gave the company a face with introducing the Coke “bottle”, but then sold the Company to Ernest Woodruff for 25 million. From there it has grown into an even more notorious company. However the Coca-Cola Company has seen it’s fair share of problems. 

The company first came out with a new flavor, and consumers rallied against it, forcing Coca-Cola to come back out with its famous Coca-Cola Classic.  Its most recent crisis however is the My Coke Rewards program. This program is known as a customer loyalty program, and it allows customers to earn prizes for redeeming codes on certain beverages.  Customers can get codes on 14 different brands Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Sprite, DASANI, POWERADE, Minute Maid, Fanta, Barq’s, Fresca, Pibb, Mello Yello, Nestea, and Seagrams.  They can find these codes under caps, inside 12 packs, and on multi-pack wraps.  When you join the program you can get rewards, enter sweepstakes, get offers and promotions, earn extra points, get email updates and mobile alerts.  After you earn the points from the fourteen brands, you can spend those points on rewards, sweepstakes, instant win, MCR Points Plus, customers can support a good cause, or donate to a school.   Since the start of this program in February customers have done nothing but complain about the program.  Instead of this being known as the My Coke Rewards Program, many have been referring to it as the My Coke Rewards Scam.  Registered members complained that the “top rewards” were unreachable.  A second complaint was that when people would create a wish list, by the time they were able to collect enough points to purchase their special items, the items were already gone.  A consumer in St. Louis, MO elected to file a lawsuit against Coca-Cola.  Her reasoning is that the My Coke Rewards program might push kids to drink enough soda to “die or even become obese”.  A frustrated customer also posted on twitter that he was having a difficult time redeeming the points for the program.

The threat to the Coca-Cola Company because of this program is evident.  One of the customers who were upset about the program said that it made him want to drink Pepsi.  The Coca-Cola Company is so much more than just a soft drink to many of its customers.  To many people it’s a past time that they have enjoyed for years and years, for others it’s a chance to remember a childhood memory.  It’s also an example of the American Dream.  If Coca-Cola were to damage its reputation because of the My Coke Rewards program, the company would lose a lot of customers.  Coca-Cola has a great soft drink, but most people love the brand so much because of its reputation and what it means to them sentimentally.  The company would take a big hit in sales if the company’s reputation were changed to one that tried to take advantage of its customers.  (


  1. Coca-Cola adjusted the point values on rewards so that the highest point value is 26,000 for prizes like the cruise for two, a five-day U.S. destination vacation or a walk-on movie. 
  2. The Company began emailing members to let them know when wish items were being exhausted. 
  3. In response to the lawsuit, Coca-Cola explained that members could purchase Diet Coke, as well as Coke Zero.  The Company also explained that members do not have to drink all of the coke they purchase either. 
  4. The head of social media for the company posted an apology on the frustrated customer’s Twitter and assisted him in receiving the prize.  (


  1. After the frustrated customer on Twitter received the prize, he changed his Twitter avatar to a photo of himself holding a Coke.
  2. The customer that was frustrated about the wish list was still frustrated with Coke even after they sent email notifications out.  He explained that “even if your 400 points short, an email notification does not help you out much”.
  3. The lawsuit against Coca-Cola for pushing kids to drink the product was presumed dropped.
  4. After the highest point value was dropped to a number that was more reachable Williamson explains, “ninety-nine percent of the prizes can be redeemed for less than 5,000 points and 83% can be obtained with less than 100 points.  The program has rewarded 300,000 prizes”. 

I think that the My Coke Rewards program still might be a problem for the company and I would suggest running it for a limited amount of time.  I think that Coca-Cola was doing as much as they can to please their customers with there complaints.  The decision that the head of social media for the company posted on the frustrated customers twitter was a very good choice.  Not only did it please the customer, but it also gave the customer and everyone else watching the message that Coca-Cola is down to earth and will communicate with customers on a casual level.  It makes someone feel like they have a friend looking out for them, rather than a company trying to take advantage of them.  The company used the apologia theory quite often, but I think they were smart to do also.  They simply apologized for the inconvenience and tried to fix the complaint.  Coca-Cola is a very prestigious company and I believe that they will remain that way if they keep up this type of customer service.


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US Airways Case Summary

Lynn Luig

US Airways Case Summary


            US Airways is an airline based in Tempe, Arizona USA. They have a fleet of 340 mainline jet aircraft and 300 regional jet and turbo-prop aircraft connecting 200 destinations. They coordinate about 3,208 daily flights. US Airways started as All American Aviation Inc, founded by the du Pont family. The company suffered a reputation for years of bad customer service and had bad publicity. At one time, they were nicknamed “Agony Air” by its publics. They rebranded in 1979 to USAir and again in 1996 the airline announced that it would change its name to US Airways and introduced a new corporate identity in early 1997 including a new logo which was a stylized version of the US flag.


            On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 had to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River only six minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. About three minutes into the flight, several Canadian Geese were sucked into the engines on each side of the plane. Captain Sullenberger transmitted “Hit birds. Lost thrust on both engines.” After reaching an altitude of about 3,060 feet and deciding that the plane wouldn’t make it back to La Gaurdia or to any nearby landing strips, Captain Sullenberger took the controls and landed the plane safely with no power in the Hudson in front of millions of New Yorkers. The 155 occupants (including 3 flight attendants and 2 pilots) evacuated safely and were rescued by local watercraft and ferries. Seventy eight people were treated at nearby hospitals, mostly for minor injuries and hypothermia. There were five serious injuries and no deaths.

Situation Analysis


            By far the most important strength in this case is the pilot in command, 57-year-old Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger. He is a former fighter pilot and has been an airline pilot since 1980. He is also a safety expert and a glider pilot. Captain Sully took the controls after the engines stalled as his first officer read through a three page emergency procedures checklist. After the plane was in the water, floating and drifting with the passengers standing on the submerged wings, Captain Sullenberg walked up and down the aisle twice to be certain that everyone had been evacuated and he was the last person to leave the plane.

            The location that he chose for the “ditching” was also a strength. The plane landed near three boat terminals for the ferry and a sightseeing cruise with Manhattan emergency responders within view of the crash. The first boat got to the plane within four minutes. About 65 ambulances were ready for survivors as they walked off of the boats.

            A recent, new revamp of US Airways’ crisis communications plan was practiced and drilled frequently and was fresh on the minds of the crisis team.


            The Airbus 320, the craft in this case relies on the two engines as its primary source of energy. Nearly 500 planes have been damaged by collisions with birds since 2000, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. About 166 of those planes had to make emergency landings. The flight pattern of flight 1549 is known to go through a migratory path for Canadian Geese. Noticing these prodromes, US Airways should have changed their flight pattern before this event. Also, one of the inflatable slides failed to open. Air temperature at that time was about 20 °F, and the water was 36 °F putting the passengers at risk for hypothermia.


                The opportunity in this case for US Airways was for them to make an example out of this event and bolster their reputation. This event has proven that their business is run efficiently with quality service and well trained employees.


                The cause of this accident is still prevalent and fairly unpredictable. A repeat of this event would most likely cause bad publicity. The survivors could also sue the company.


  • In October, 2008 the Corporate Communications Vice President of US Airways ordered his team to reduce the out of date, 125 page crisis communications plan down to a user friendly 15 page version.
  • Immediately after hearing the news, US Airways executives stopped what they were doing to support the crisis team. Many of them took immediate flights to La Gaudia or Tempe Arizona.
  • The CEO was in the identified command center at the time and immediately installed an advanced phone system to handle the high volume of calls.
  • A news release was in the works immediately with a goal to have it released within 15 minutes.
  • US Airways waited to confirm survivors until each one had been contacted, determined to be more accurate than fast.
  • A “bridge line” was set up to enable key personnel to have first hand information communicated to them from first responders, the crew and the FAA.
  • A website dedicated to updating information about the incident was up within 30 minutes from notification of the ditching.
  • The first news release was within 45 minutes.
  • A press conference with the CEO was conducted within 90 minutes in which he confirmed that the flight had been involved in an accident.
  • Key terms about the crash were bought from search engines (including Yahoo and Google) so that the public would be directed to the website.
  • Cell phones, emergency credit cards for purchase of hotel rooms and clothing were quickly provided to passengers by about 50 US Airways employees.
  • A toll free number was available for family members for updates on the survivors’ whereabouts.
  • Each passenger received a letter of apology from the CEO with instructions on how to receive belongings, a check for $5,000 and a check to reimburse their air fare.
  • A family support center was established.
  • Another letter from the CEO was received by survivors on Jan 21 related to receiving their belongings.
  • US Airways’ customer care team personally delivered valuables to survivors.
  • All survivors were given chairmen’s preferred flight status through March, 2010.
  • The entire flight crew went on 60 minutes a month later to discuss the event.
  • US Airways hosted a one year reunion ceremony at the crash site.
  • Use of the flight’s number, 1549, was discontinued and the flight pattern was changed.
  • Passengers reported they were offered $10,000 each not to sue US Airways for damages by American International Group (AIG), the airline’s insurance carrier.
  • On Jan 26th, there was another press conference with the CEO.


            The entire crew of Flight 1549 was later awarded the Master’s Medal of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators award. There was no loss of life but many survivors suffered from symptoms of post-traumatic stress. The crew of Flight 1549 was given a standing ovation at the Super Bowl that year. The Mayor of New York City presented the Keys to the City to the crew. An article in Business Week stated that US Airways was “a model in crisis management.” Many media sources referred to the crew as heroes and the event has been called a “Miracle on the Hudson.”


            US Airways showed textbook crisis management by managing each stage of this crisis. They reacted immediately upon detection of the crises from the media, they were well prepared to respond swiftly in a variety of ways to prevent the positive public opinion from going sour, they utilized news conferences and social media to contain the crisis and they provided optimal support to survivors and were able to recover quickly.

            United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Environmental Protection Departments showed that they learned from this crisis by capturing and gassing about 1,235 Canadian Geese in June and July 2009. The Agriculture Department undertook another goose control measure by coating 1,739 eggs with corn oil, which prevents goslings from developing by depriving them of air. This is all an attempt to thin out the goose population near LaGuardia airport.


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US Airways

Natalie Fisher

Case Study 3

13 July 2012

US Airways

Background: US Air Ways is out of Tempe Arizona and has over 3,200 flights that go out on a daily basis. They are the employer for over 32,000 people and use 3 different kinds of jets/planes that connect flights and destinations to North America, South America and Europe.


Problem: On January 15, 2009 flight 1549 survived what people call the “miracle of the Hudson”. This flight took off from LaGuardia Airport and its destination was planned to be at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. While in flight the Captain who was guiding the plane, Chelsey Sullenberger, flew into a flock of Canadian Geese which caused both engines to stop running and loose power. The plan landed into the Hudson River and everybody that boarded the plane in New York survived. There were two minor injuries that came out of this miracle.


Situation Analysis: The US Air Ways had many strengths and weakness along with opportunities and threats. The main strength for US Air Ways was that they had a really good crisis plan that short and to the point and ready to use when crisis came. A weakness would be that the media made headlines before US Air Ways could make any statements so some of the statements were not true. This was a great opportunity for US Air Ways to show there great preparation for a crisis and that they truly care about their customers and their safety. I would say the only threat would be that since US Air Ways was unable to make a statement before the media got to the story their could have been some upset Americans due to the false news.


Strategies: There were many things that made this the miracle of the Hudson. US Airways made sure that all 150 passengers on that plane were taken care of. They set up a toll free number so family could check on their family members that had been on the plane. They helped them with hotel rooms, warm clothing, and cell phones to contact loved ones. They gave them 5,000 dollars and refunded there amount for their plane ticket. The Captain was quite the hero in this situation. He decided that instead of crashing he was going to try a water landing. He made sure all of the crew workers were helping the passengers stay calm and he walked back and forth on the plane many times before he got into the boat. He was the last person off the plane.


Comments: I feel that the US Airways did a fine job. The CEO was very prepared and had a crisis plan in order. The captain knew what his role was and did a fine job. They put the passengers first and was very considerate.












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Dance Adams

Communication 642

US Air Ways


US Airways began as an airmail service in 1939. In their 73 year history the company has changed names several times. Originally from All American Aviation to All American Airlines and Allegheny Airlines while acquiring Lake Central Airlines and Mohawk Airlines. In 1979 Allegheny Airlines changes their name to US Air.


January 15 2008 US Airways flight 1549 left New York’s LaGuarida airport headed for Charlotte, North Carolina and after striking a flight of birds crashed landed in the Hudson River.


Strengths: First they had recently updated their crisis plan. Second they had just implemented a dry run of their plan. The timing of the water landing was fortuitous in that their crisis plan was fresh in the minds of their employees. Also the Hudson River helped the rescue efforts, crashing in the ocean surly would have claimed lives. Next the airlines use of the word accident instead of crash or crash landing, allowing them to admit there was a problem in the best possible light. Finally, I believe that the flight altitude must have been a great advantage, in-comparison to a flight that suffered engine failure at 30 thousand feet.

Weakness: The major weakness was the simple fact of the laws of averages. Simply put if you fly long enough you will have mechanical problems that may lead to a crash. US Airways could only be re-reactionary in this situation, which is never a good place to be. Finally, there appears to be weakness for all commercial airlines, the lack of innovation that the industry has shown toward bird deflection. This might seem obvious but how can aeronautical engineers over look that a mufti-million dollar planes that hold the lives of their passengers can be forced out of the air by a bird?

Opportunities: There largest opportunity was for good P.R., and to show the world how they care for their passengers. Second was the “hero” drum that they beat the horse to death using the captain heroics and years of experience.

Threats: Loss of consumer confidence, leading to dwindling ticket sales. Law suites from the passengers, crew and their families. Also stronger federal regulation, and negative P.R could have proven to be problematic.


1: Waited until facts could be confirmed before giving a detailed response.

2: Web page was up with in thirty minutes.

3: The “ care team” was sent to New York to provide cell phones and clothing to passengers.

4: Leveraged search engines by purchasing key words, and terms for information redirection.

5: Set up phone lines for families to check on passengers.

6: There “go team” carried credit cards and cash to the first responders to book hotel rooms for the passengers.

7: CEO gave a that a boy to the police firemen, ferry boat operators, Salvation Army, E.M.T.’s etc….

8: Sent letters to passengers explaining how to retrieve items left behind with a $5000 check to handle immediate expenses.

9: Reimbursed air fair.

10: Gave passengers “chairman’s preferred” status until March 2010.

11: Continued to keep their success fresh in the mind of the general public via 60 minutes interviews 12 months later, also a pilgrimage was made back to the crash site one year latter.


Business Week proclaimed US Airways to be “a model of crisis management”. The company still is heralded as a caring company. The crash was named the “miracle on the Hudson”; in short they have appeared to have made the correct decisions.


This case is a testament of a good P.R. Department and communications team. They by all reports have appeared to perform their duties to the best of any standard. However, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the captain all though a skilled pilot did not deserve the title of hero. I believe that he was doing a job that he was handsomely paid to do. For me a hero is somebody who goes above and beyond the call of duty, here the captain had no choice but to do his level best to land the plane as he to was on board. .

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