Whitney Eichinger: 40 Under 40 2012

Senior Communications Manager, Southwest Airlines

Whitney Eichinger’s career has taken off and, for her, the sky’s the limit. As primary spokeswoman for one of the nation’s most successful airlines, she intimately understands the power of the press and the impact of positive corporate reputation. Her management role in the PR department at Southwest Airlines has helped the team win numerous industry awards.

Having started her career at Southwest as an intern in the PR department, she has risen to senior manager of communications, working with traditional and social media on key issues. She was recently communications lead for the launch of flights from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and has played a key role in the airline’s participation in a TLC reality show.

Eichinger also headed up communications for the Southwest Porch project, which saw the creation of an outdoor venue in Manhattan’s Bryant Park designed to give New Yorkers a taste of the airline’s hospitality on their doorstep. She is involved in many key areas for the company, including launching products such as the airline’s new Lift coffee, Wi-Fi service, and working on strategic communications for the airline’s scheduled launches. Eichinger also cultivates strong relationships with media in Southwest’s cities, works with marketing counterparts to create events that grab press attention, and handles tough issues by working with the airline’s leadership team.

She has led the charge to develop key messages for leaders, helping keep them fresh in people’s minds by publishing highlights of Southwest executives’ speeches on the company’s media website.

"Whitney is a communications leader’s dream," says Linda Rutherford, VP of communications and strategic outreach at the airline.

"She is creative, flexible, responsive, collaborative, and exhibits the right mix of functional and people leadership," adds Rutherford. "Whitney is fearless in a good way, knows how to approach projects seeking a fresh angle, and how to get buy-in from the right people."

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