According to “Nuts! Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success,” “In 1989, when the San Francisco Bay area experienced a terrible earthquake, Gary Holloway, then a Southwest employee in Phoenix, thought of a way to help the victims. He called an ABC television affiliate in Phoenix and asked newscasters to tell viewers to take blankets, clothes, and canned food to the Southwest terminal at Sky Harbor Airport…The outpouring from Phoenix and other Southwest cities was so strong that, when it was all over, Southwest Airlines had flown in more supplies to relieve the victims than anyone else, including the American Red Cross!”
The book describes how Southwest’s philosophy of caring for its employees, customers, and communities boosted the company to resounding success. In 1996 when the book was written, Southwest Airlines was ranked among the highest in their industry for service, safety, on-time performance, and low turnover. Today, Southwest Airlines continues to receive numerous awards and accolades for being one of the top air carriers in the U.S.
Fostering a sense of caring is a public relations must, no matter who you are, what public relations profession you’re in, or who your publics are. While our capacity for caring is often tested, making genuine caring the foundation for your plans and actions will produce outstanding, long-term results for you and your business. For example, if you’re a business owner with a passion for animals, donate a portion of your proceeds to or do pro bono work for organizations that serve animals. If you’re a manager, lead with a caring heart for both your staff and customers and make only promises you will keep. Your caring and integrity will inspire respect from your staff and loyalty from your customers. If you’re a front line employee, take care in the quality and quantity of your work and in your associations with customers. Be sure that even the smallest tasks and interactions are infused with a sense of caring.
Make not-so-random acts of kindness and caring part of your business – and life – plan. Start a revolution of caring, and your PR success will soon follow. And please note, the type of caring we talk about here must be real, not forced or planned solely to get something in return.