How Alaska Airlines’ social media lead stays ready for crisis situations

Maddie Richter discusses the airline’s emergency response drills, her work-life balance and more.

Maddie Richter Alaska Airlines Ragan PR Daily Power Conversations

Crisis communications was a recurring theme at Ragan’s 2024 Social Media Conference, held March 27-29 at Disney World, and the reason for that is obvious to anyone who works in comms, marketing and social media today: Crisis situations seem to arise with greater frequency amid changes to the climate, economies, workplaces, technology and international relations.

The airline industry in particular has been in the headlines lately for its challenges surrounding staffing, customer relations and even technical difficulties.

Maddie Richter oversees all of Alaska Airlines’ organic social channels; she’s a “team of one and a half” with the “half” being a contractor. Richter is responsible for strategy, planning, publishing, reporting and analytics and more.

In this conversation with Alyssa Smith, Ragan and PR Daily’s director of event programming, Richter described Alaska Airlines’ tabletop exercises, or emergency response drills. Once per quarter, all emergency stakeholders gather to work through an exercise as if a real emergency or crisis situation is happening. Richter, of course, drafts the social media response in real time.

“The reason those drills are so helpful is because we can iterate on our plan every single time,” she says. “We learn something new every single time.”

Watch below to find out how she stays agile and adaptive, gets leadership buy-in, develops templates for such incidents, manages her workload and more.

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