Brands are seeking new ways to push past the clutter of the Internet, and their main ticket through is storytelling.
While social media continues to shape a new era of linking the voice of corporate brands and content creators, brands also need to keep in mind the importance of transparency. Among the long list of brands that have made the move to increase brand loyalty by keeping it real is Southwest Airlines.
The Texas-based airline has aimed to maintain personal connections with both its employees and consumers, and it’s been paying off. At the PRSSA Southeastern Regional Conference in January, senior communications specialists Millie Tidwell and Lori Crabtree of Southwest Airlines explained that the way for a corporate brand to earn the trust of its consumers is through making human connections. Southwest’s connections come from stories of the company’s own employees and consumers. For myself and other students that can relate, the most meaningful connections are with those who were not looking to be recognized.
“Get the story. Make the connection. Make a difference,” Crabtree said when describing Southwest’s storytelling process.
Southwest has created an authenticity that wouldn’t be found in a scripted commercial. Its communication staff has dug deep to find individuals both internally and externally that the company has personally impacted. Featured in a multitude of videos, these individuals’ stories range from a five-year-old boy who has dreamt of being a pilot to a Southwest employee who casually serenades passengers before boarding their flight.
So, what’s the big catch? There is none. These stories weren’t framed.
The 5-year-old boy, Hudson Hughes, recreated the moment a Southwest pilot waved at him from the cockpit by doodling it on a sheet of paper. As any excited parent would do, Hughes’ mom uploaded the drawing to Facebook; it was found by Southwest’s communications team, and the rest was history. Southwest’s innovative use of social media allowed the staff to find real, genuine and heartwarming stories related to the brand.
The stories that Southwest has featured break the mold of traditional storytelling. Southwest has utilized different social media platforms to not only communicate its own culture as a company, but also to inspire others.
How will your story make a difference?
-by Allison Cohen, PRSSA General Member