IRONY: United CEO Was Named 2017 PRWeek ‘Communicator of the Year’

This is no hoax. On March 9, PRWeek announced that United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz was named their “U.S. Communicator of the Year.”

Munoz has shown himself to be a smart, dedicated, and excellent leader who understands the value of communications. His ability to connect and share with employees his vision for the airline, and get them to rally behind it, is a key reason PRWeek named him 2017 Communicator of the Year.

Irony, served hot, is delicious.

I do feel for Munoz, who recently recovered from a heart transplant. It’s got to be a difficult job running an airline and handling the stress of major surgery. But notice the one category of United stakeholders that didn’t make the list of who Munoz “connected well with.”

He connected well with the airline’s pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, and other workers partly because of his blue-collar roots – his father was a union meat cutter – and he hasn’t been shy opening up to employees or media about his heart problems. He invited Fortune to follow him on the job, which resulted in a highly positive feature.

That’s right: customers. You know, those people who pay to fly the not-so-friendly skies, sit in narrow seats, and get abused by your airline. It would be nice if Munoz connected well with those people.

Here’s what PRWeek is saying now about Munoz.

Executives usually stop digging. However, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz may have made his company’s reputation crisis worse late Monday when he described a passenger who was forcibly removed from a flight as “disruptive and belligerent” in an email to staff. Munoz said United “followed established procedures” and told employees, “I emphatically stand behind all of you” in the note, according to CNBC. Just two weeks after the #LeggingsGate crisis, United drew a fiery social media backlash on Monday after video emerged of law enforcement personnel violently dragging a passenger from his seat on a flight to Louisville, Kentucky, from Chicago.

Aaaaand…shareholders are not pleased. United’s market cap has fallen $830 million, with a 3.7 percent drop in share price, according to MarketWatch. It’s not quite free-fall, but Munoz better get going and earn that award soon, or United is going to continue to be the butt of late-night television jokes, in addition to being eaten alive on social media.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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