Captain Francesco Schettino added a new dimension to the term ‘Rocking the Boat’ when he unwittingly removed some of Giglio’s real estate by turning the Costa Concordia into the world’s most luxurious dredger.
He also triggered a major crisis with arguably the most dramatic maritime event since the Titanic, just a few weeks short of the centenary of that fatal maiden voyage.
The Costa Concordia incident, like all other crises, requires a special brand of PR to minimise the inevitable damage to reputation – and share price, as Costa’s parent, Carnival, suffered in the immediate aftermath of the event.
Crisis PR is all about having a practised plan ready for immediate implementation when ‘the worst’ happens. A ship sinking, a factory destroyed by fire, a building collapsing or a cyberattack breaching data security are typical examples of crises that can hit any company, at any time. There are, of course, many other examples of greater and lesser disasters.
PR cannot right the wrongs, but judicious communication with officialdom, the media, investors, customers and staff may soften the blow by encouraging understanding – even sympathy. The most important element is to show that the company is reacting with care and control, with key players demonstrating professionalism in the crisis roles.
Whether you are an SME or a mega-corporation, ask yourself: are we prepared for the worst? Do we have the right tools to dig ourselves out of any mess that comes our way?
If you haven’t got an up-to-date crisis PR plan, get one as soon as possible. Practise it. Make sure that potential spokesmen know the ropes. Make sure all customer-facing staff know what they should and should not say. Don’t rock the boat!
If you are reading this because you have been prompted to do so by one of my Tweets, then the chances are that you don’t to read much further. Why? Because if you are following @davidgoddin, you are probably among the 61% of the people I’m following who are classed as good Tweeps.
I’ve just come across @TwitCleaner (http://twitcleaner.com), which has given me the best insight yet into my followings, clearly identifying those people who, for various reasons, are statistically not worth following. In today’s report, I’m following 273 people who are of questionable value.
If you are among the other 61%, you probably Tweet a good balance of original matter, retweets and @mentions – and you interact well with others, following most of those who follow you. You don’t only Tweet about yourself, and you don’t send out an endless stream of links or repeated Tweets. In short, you are converted.
If, however, you are one of the 273, you need urgently to review your approach to Twitter, because you are missing huge opportunities to promote yourself and your business and to communicate with your ‘publics’. Sadly, many of the 273 will not benefit from this advice because they haven’t bothered to follow me back and consequently won’t see the prompt.
TwitCleaner gives me the option to unfollow any or all the Tweeps it has flagged. Mostly, I follow Tweeps I want to interact with, so I will give the 273 a bit of time to mend their ways before I start unfollowing them. I will also be looking closely at my own performance on Twitter, to ensure I’m giving value to my followers and getting maximum benefit from this valuable medium myself.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 16 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.