PRWeek Tamps Down Its Own Little United Airlines-Related PR Crisis

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In the wake of United Airlines' PR nightmare of a week, trade publication PRWeek has drawn unwelcome attention for recently bestowing an honor on the carrier's CEO Oscar Munoz. To wit:

In more innocent times -- three weeks ago -- PRWeek had praised Mr. Munoz thusly:

Only two months and change after having undergone a heart transplant, Oscar Munoz returned full time in March 2016 to his role as CEO of United Airlines. Since then, he has continued the unlikely turnaround of United, a feat made more extraordinary given his health crisis just six weeks after he took on the airline's top job. An excellent leader who understands the value of PR, Munoz's ability to connect and share with employees his vision for the airline, and get them to rally behind it, are key reasons PRWeek's editors have named him 2017 Communicator of the Year.

The internet commentariat has not only been busily retweeting the above tweet, but suggesting that PRWeek retract the award -- or perhaps go back in time and avoid honoring Mr. Munoz in the first place.

"We're very talented, but we're not psychic," PRWeek Editor in Chief Steve Barrett told me. The publication won't be doing take-backsies on Mr. Munoz's honor, but Mr. Barrett did direct my attention to his measured editorial posted this afternoon under the headline "United Airlines need to do better."

Here's the key passage:

It's fair to say that if PRWeek was choosing its Communicator of the Year now, we would not be awarding it to Oscar Munoz.

Duly noted.

Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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