Southwest touts Blog Expo sponsorship with contest

Southwest Airlines has long been entrenched in the blogosphere. Close to 30 pilots, flight attendants, customer-service agents, and other frontline and behind-the-scenes employees frequently write on its company blog, Nuts About Southwest.

Southwest Airlines has long been entrenched in the blogosphere. Close to 30 pilots, flight attendants, customer-service agents, and other frontline and behind-the-scenes employees frequently write on its company blog, Nuts About Southwest. This year, it was the official airline of the first-ever BlogWorld Expo trade show in Las Vegas, held November 8 to 9. To promote the show and its involvement in it, Southwest launched an online contest.

Strategy
As a way of driving traffic to its blog while promoting the event and its sponsorship, the airline decided to host a photo-caption contest on its blog. The grand prize was a trip to Las Vegas, including round-trip tickets for two on Southwest, a three-night stay at the MGM Grand, and registration for the BlogWorld Expo. "This contest seemed like a perfect way to promote our involvement with the BlogWorld Expo and, at the same time, have a little fun with our bloggers," says Paula Berg, PR specialist at Southwest.

Tactics
Southwest posted the contest on Nuts About Southwest and followed up with a news release. Fellow BlogWorld exhibitor and social-media company Spigit created an interactive voting site, which Southwest linked to from its blog. Readers had a week to vote for their favorite caption by giving it a thumbs up or a thumbs down. The caption with the most thumbs ups at week's end would win.

Results
The voting site logged 8,000 visits on the first day. By week's end, it had received more than 800 caption entries, close to 25,000 visits, and "countless mentions on blogs, wires, and chat rooms," Berg notes.

Future
"Blogging has really been a great fit for Southwest thus far," says Berg. "As we delve further into the social-media realm, we'll be looking for opportunities that make sense for both our culture and our customers."

PR team: Southwest Airlines (Dallas)

Campaign: Southwest Airlines Sends Lucky Blogger to Vegas

Duration: October 19 to 26, 2007

Budget: Less than $10,000

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