Beyond PR

Feb 26, 2016

Content We Love: How Delta Air Lines Created 80,000 Brand Advocates

Delta Content We Love full

Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool for any brand. Just think: How many times have you asked someone for their opinion on a certain product, whether they tried that new restaurant, or how they felt about their new car?

The list goes on and on.

Because no one wants to be left unsatisfied after spending their hard earned money, your brand’s customers and prospects are looking for honest insight from people who have experience with your product.

From industry influencers to customer advocates, today’s brands have a number of ways to tap into word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, one incredibly knowledgeable, but under-utilized resource sits right around you: your colleagues.

Highlighting your brand’s employees not only connects your customers with people who know your products inside and out, it also provides a behind-the-scenes look into how your company operates.  And both of these things offer immense value.

When a company shows that it values its employees and the communities it serves, customers tend to take notice. A study by Nielsen reported that 55 percent of global online consumers were willing to pay more for products and services when a company was committed to making a social and environmental impact.

Additionally, employees who are appreciated and empowered are more likely to perform better. Happier employees means happier customers.

An excellent example of positive company culture leading to major revenue — and headlines — was Delta Air Lines’ recent announcement about its $1.5 billion profit sharing payout.

This was the largest-ever payout of its kind in U.S. history.

With good reason, it’s an accomplishment Delta has taken significant pride in, and they know exactly who deserves credit for the historic profits and industry-leading operational excellence they earned in 2015: Delta employees.

On the day that employees received their payout, Delta’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson and President Ed Bastian sent a company memo which they then shared with the public.

“We are often asked what makes Delta different,” they wrote. “The difference is you. Our unique people-focused culture, built on the Rules of the Road and working together, is the advantage that none of our competitors can match.”


After learning that their profit sharing plan had made history, Delta created a 5 part communications plan to honor their team:

  • Thank You Celebrations: Delta started with the construction of a 50-foot-tall greeting card at the Delta General Offices. It included the names of every Delta employee – all 80,000 of them — and set a Guinness World Record.
  • Multimedia Message: They also created a thank you video detailing their record breaking year, which was then distributed through their social media platforms.
  • Paid Advertising: The airline followed up by thanking employees with ad placements in U.S. newspapers, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, among others.
  • Social Media Engagement: To inspire employees to share pride in their accomplishment, the air line provided them with the #DeltaProud hashtag.
  • Press Release: Finally, the press release they issued detailed their profit sharing success and included a call-to-action to check out their online newsroom where additional information was published.

These tools empowered employees to feel connected, and connected employees are good brand ambassadors.

According to this follow-up article on the Delta News Hub, the air line’s profit sharing announcement not only resulted in excellent social media engagement, it also led to coverage in numerous newspapers, tv news stations, blogs and websites, which highlighted the payout and Delta’s impact on its communities.

Even if your company doesn’t have the number of employees or budget Delta does, it’s possible to connect with your employees and promote unconventional story ideas in similar ways.

Consider showcasing employees’ hard work through social channels or featuring their voices on your company website, blog and other owned channels. Similarly, encourage and make it easy for them to share the love via their own networks.

Another relatively easy and inexpensive way to earn positive attention for your brand is by creating and sharing content that highlights authentic community contributions. Reassess your brand’s stories and map out a multichannel distribution plan to ensure the messaging you develop is seen.

Get started now by downloading our free guide, Redefining Newsworthiness: New Opportunities to Earn Media, which offers more tips on finding brand stories that journalists, influencers and your customers will love.

Author Ryan Hansen (@RPH2004) manages social media at PR Newswire, sharing the latest PR, marketing and social media trends across our networks. See what he’s up to around the PR Newswire offices by following @PRNewswire on Instagram.

2 Comments on Blog Post Title

­ nirajani 01:42 EST on Mar 2, 2016

Nice article

­ Laryn Hilderbrandt 22:20 EDT on Mar 20, 2016

This blog entry discusses a very important factor in public relations: employee relations. In turn, employee relations affects customer relations. Delta has very publicly taken pride in its appreciation of the employees. The company does this on a multitude of platforms: a record-breaking thank you card with 80,000 employees, a multimedia message, its paid advertising, social media engagement, and the press releases discussing its profit sharing success. With the competitiveness in today's economy, Delta is pioneering a way of thinking that will make employees the best brand advocates. The author of this entry, Ryan Hansen, related it to saying happy employees make happy customers, and that is entirely right. Delta is winning over its public reputation by winning over their own employees. Genius, am I right?

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