United Airlines has named former White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest as its Chief Communications Officer.
In a press release, United describes his job description:
At United, he will be responsible for developing the company’s global communications strategy, leading a world-class team to execute it, working closely with the company’s leadership to shape the airline’s public image and serving as the company’s chief spokesman.
United CEO Oscar Munoz said:
Josh is a proven leader and world-class communications strategist who has thrived when the stakes are the highest – and the margin for error is the smallest. He’ll play a crucial role on our leadership team as we position our brand and this company for success. I am looking forward to working closely with him to continue to expand United’s global leadership.
Finally, Earnest himself offered painfully fulsome optimism about this new role:
United Airlines is an iconic, global brand with a long history – but it’s United’s bright future that makes me enthusiastic about joining the team. Cutting through the noise of the modern media environment is a challenge, especially in the highly competitive airline industry. United’s advantage will continue to be its customer-focused core values, dedicated employees and visionary leadership team. That’s the story that I am excited to tell.
I worked with two White House Press Secretaries over a decade ago–first Tony Snow, then Dana Perino. They could not have been more different.
Snow loved the daily briefings. He loved the banter with the press and would take the time to answer ever questions. He was in his element.
Perino, on the other hand, told me she hated the daily press briefings. She dreaded them like I dread the accounting side of my business. And it showed. It’s not that she wasn’t effective…she was…but it just seemed the daily press briefings and other press encounters were merely a painful obligation, not a passion. Daily briefings were much shorter than during Snow’s tenure.
I was outside the Administration during Earnest’s tenure, but he always struck me more like Snow than like Perino. And that’s a good thing for his latest position at United.
I do believe he can be effective in his new role at United. Like Lucky, though, I note the that the airline industry is a “unique beast” and requires a special skillset and knowledge base. Earnest now has a lot to learn if he is going to drive the image of United past the potholes of Dao and dead rabbits and dead dogs.
It would seem an admission they need some serious PR help. On the other hand, I wonder how translatable his experience would be to UA. UA both has the wider audience, the occasional flyer who doesn’t really know much, and the frequent flyers, who spend a lot of money and know a lot about the product and its advantages and flaws. Could be tricky.
Matthew, you have just confirmed my suspicion. You are a flaming liberal.
Maybe you, like the president that Dana Perino served, should use The Google. She worked for W. Tony Snow as well. Now, using that logic stuff, we can surmise that Matthew also worked in the White House during that period. Now if Matthew is a liberal, then W is also a liberal. Wow, this logic stuff really is amazing! Check your facts before making silly accusations.
He always has been!
Unless you think Josh Earnest was being monumentally facetious in his statement, “fulsome” is not the best word to use to describe it. (Sure if you point to the 5th definition in the dictionary, you’re safe, but you are a better writer than that!)
Can you ask him if UA gives out GS status for free to elected officials that it lobbies?
Really Arthur you have to ask that question? Everyone helps everyone in Washington as long as you belong in the clique!
I don’t see the upside here. If all UA is looking for is someone to manage “PR emergencies” (Doggate, Draggate, Bonusgate, etc.), then I suppose this makes sense. After all, who better to manage those than someone who has to put out far worse fires at the White House.
But I’d say a large part of the trust deficit between the public and airlines is the constant use of corporate Newspeak to spin obvious devaluations (award chart devaluations, Basic Economy, bag fees, revenue-based mileage earning, etc.) as “enhancements”. If the idea is to use Earnest as a PR guy to make the Newspeak sound better to the public, I don’t see how a political spinmaster helps with that. The public’s not buying the spin as it is, and if there’s one industry in America held in lower regard than the airlines, it’s the political system. And as the comments here show, a sizeable percentage of the public is going to view hiring a former Obama administration official as an endorsement of a particular political ideology…