ROUND ROCK, TX—As bankruptcy rumors swirl around American Airlines, vice president of corporate communications Tim Doke—named PR professional of the year last year by the Public Relations Society of America—is leaving the company to become vice president of communications at Dell, although he will continue to work with American through a transition period.
American has named Gus Whitcomb, currently managing director of strategic communications at the company, acting managing director of corporate communications. Whitcomb joined American in 1993 after serving as manager of public relations at Aloha Airlines. He left AA for an short period to serve as director of corporate communications at America West Airlines and in the same capacity at Greenwich Air Services.
“We are fortunate to have the depth of talent and someone with Gus’ background and experience in our industry and at American Airlines ready to step in to lead our corporate communications group at a critical time for our company,” said Dan Garton, executive vice president of marketing. “We appreciate Tim’s contributions to American and his willingness to work with Gus through a transition period.”
Doke will be based at Dell’s Austin headquarters where he will have responsibility for the company’s financial and general media relations, public affairs (including the Dell Foundation), employee communications and executive visibility programs for Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO, and Kevin Rollins, President and COO. He will report to Elizabeth Allen, who holds the title of vice president, corporate communications.
Doke has alternated between the corporate and agency sides of the business for much of his career, with stints at Carl Byoir & Associates and Hill & Knowlton, as well as heading PR at Seattle-based Elgin Syferd. He has also held corporate positions at Alaska Airlines and Brinker International before joining AA in 1998.
He was recognized by the PRSA last year for his role in effectively managing the chain of crises—including the terrorist attacks of September 11 and a crash in New York one month later—that confronted American Airlines in 2001. This year he has played a high-profile role in the airline’s contentious labor negotiations and in answering questions about a possible Chapter 11 filing after reports the company had retained a bankruptcy law firm.