There are a lot of things I give American Airlines a hard time for, though their corporate communications department isn’t one of them. That’s thanks primarily to one person — Sunny Rodriguez — and unfortunately it’s her last day at the airline. View from the Wing just wrote a post praising her, and I wanted to do the same. Yes, she’s that awesome.
The relationship between bloggers & airlines
I make a point of keeping my distance from airlines. I do what I can to provide unbiased coverage, and part of that is making sure that airlines don’t try to impact my coverage.
In general I’d say I don’t have great relationships with the corporate communications departments at many airlines. I’d say my relationships with most airlines are at best amicable, and at worst they downright dislike me.
A lot of airline communications departments try to leverage their position to try to get positive coverage:
- They’ll only get you answers quickly if they think it will paint the airline in a favorable light
- They’ll only proactively share information with you if they think it will be positive coverage
- They’ll send you “corrections” to stories that aren’t actually corrections, but rather are them trying to put their spin on things (without naming the airline, here’s an actual “correction” I got to a story a while back: “This is not a cost cutting initiative. As we continuously listen to customers’ feedback we are evolving…”)
- They won’t understand your question; if you work in a communications department and are responsible for a specific topic, you should be knowledgable about that topic
- They just stop responding to you altogether if they don’t think you’re an advocate for their brand
The list goes on and on.
Why Sunny is awesome
Sunny has worked in corporate communications for American since 2016, and has been responsible for communications related to AAdvantage, food, beverage, and marketing.
Seriously, that is a really, really hard job. Could you imagine worse areas to be responsible for than AAdvantage communications, American’s meal service, etc.? She had to deal with all the AAdvantage devaluations we’ve seen, and she even had to deal with my American lobster-gate.
I’ve been blogging for well over a decade, and Sunny is without a doubt my favorite person I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with at any airline corporate communications department.
As you guys can tell, my coverage of American isn’t exactly glowing, so it’s not like I like Sunny because I have comped Concierge Key status and am flying American for free.
Rather I like Sunny because she’s the most knowledgable, honest, kind, and hard-working person I’ve ever dealt with at an airline corporate communications department:
- She worked way too many hours, and responded to requests quickly, even late at night (get off your work email, Sunny!)
- She did everything she could to get me the answers I was looking for, even when it was clear it was information for a negative story
- She even proactively shared information with me when it was related to a negative change
- She was knowledgable and really understood the areas she was responsible for, so I never had to clarify what my question was; from Admirals Club hummus to AAdvantage upgrade priority, she knew it all, or knew a person who could get an answer
- Not once did she ever ask me to change negative coverage or modify a story, unless there was something factually incorrect about it
In an era where every airline seems to describe negative changes as “enhancements,” people like Sunny are a real breath of fresh air. Her priority was always to make sure we got the information we needed, regardless of whether it was positive or negative.
Like I said, I don’t often develop relationships with airline corporate communications departments, but Sunny’s honesty and helpfulness always impressed me, and was unlike anything I got from any other airline.
I’m really going to miss having Sunny as a resource at American Airlines. I wish her all the best in her new role, as she transitions industries.
American has very big shoes to fill…