Yesterday, Malaysian Airlines told all of the families of the passengers of MH-370 via (of all things) text message, that “deeply regret to tell you that…none on board survived.” See http://ind.pn/1l2taZi for the full story. In short, isn’t someone’s life worth more than 160 characters and an impersonal communication? Isn’t the cost of not managing a crisis properly and the damage caused to the brand worth more than hiring the talent to do it right? Worse yet, Malaysian Air has no way of knowing when this message will arrive or if it’s a wrong number. This method of communication also adds credence to the notion that passengers on commercial airlines equal less than nothing.
I read a posting on LinkedIn a few weeks ago, that said in part – the first rule of Crisis Management is not to make things worse. It’s very similar to the rules I learned from my flight instructor, Sal Tripoli, in 2005. In short during an emergency the rule was, fly the airplane first, navigate second, communicate third. But always let the passengers know you have everything under control. Malaysian Airlines management clearly hasn’t read anything about the Target data breach and the failure to manage the crisis afterwards, nor taken flight lessons. If they had, Malaysian Airlines response might have been something more like Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol response, PepsiCo’s can tampering response, or (for a directly on point issue) JetBlue’s response to an ice storm in 2007. 1000 cancelled flights and 5 days of complete disarray, and yet they still have a company worth talking about.
For more info on Jet Blue’s crisis management see: http://nyti.ms/1j19dly
To read more on Target’s crisis management issues see: http://carterwestpr.com/targets-crisis-management-failure-in-the-wake-of-data-breach/