A Public Relations Crisis Communications Case Study: Will the Capsized Costa Concordia Cripple Carnival Cruise Lines and Sink the Cruise Industry?

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Jeff Mustard, President of The Bamboo Agency and a veteran public relations professional provides an interesting, insightful and illuminating peek behind the curtain of the Costa Concordia ship disaster. While the Costa Cruise Ship Concordia lay capsized off the Italian coast of Coglio, the media frenzy commences to swirl around Captain Francesco Schettino, Carnival Cruise Lines, (Costa’s Parent Company) and the cruise industry at large. Mr. Mustard outlines the media issues and strategies during this crisis communications event and the strategies that are being employed by Carnival's Crisis Communications team to prevent cruise-loving-consumers from sinking Carnival and the cruise industry.

As the Costa Cruise Ship Concordia lay capsized off the Italian coast of Coglio, the media frenzy commences to swirl around Captain Francesco Schettino, Carnival Cruise Lines, (Costa’s Parent Company) and the cruise industry at large. While the captain’s seeming negligence caused a 165’ gash in the hull of the now crippled vessel, his actions also seem to be having a tsunami-like effect on Costa’s owner, Carnival, the near-term economic future of the cruise industry in general as well as for the cruise-loving consumer. What will happen to all three of these clear, distinct and critical constituencies depends on how Costa and Carnival officials manage this global communications crisis. For a peek behind the curtain of what issues officials need to consider and action strategies employed while in the middle of a major public relations crisis communications event, the attached case study written by a public relations industry veteran will be interesting, illuminating, and insightful to public relations professionals, the media and even consumers at large.

“While ‘in-the-moment’ of a true disaster and the ensuing public relations crisis, there are still some fundamental issues that must be addressed and managed,” says Jeff Mustard, President of The Bamboo Agency, (http://www.TheBambooAgency.com), a full service marketing company that specializes in public relations. Mustard, a more than 20-year industry veteran and multiple award-winner in marketing, media and mass communications, has crafted a day by day analysis of issues Concordia and Carnival officials must be addressing in order to salvage their company’s most important asset – the company’s brand, shoring up consumer confidence and buoying what could be a crushing blow to the cruising industry in general.

Read the Full Case Study Now: http://www.thebambooagency.wordpress.com

Case Study Summary: Setting Sail on a Crisis Communications Public Relations Journey

As facts emerge the company will respond as best it can. It will strive to provide and deliver timely information helpful to families and useful to all news media.

The strategy of a company statement, whether delivered by a company spokesperson, the president, or the Chief Information or Communications officers, as well as through traditional media sources/outlets will, while being as truthful as possible, communicate information in as benign a manner as possible to “mitigate” its responsibility.

This is not saying that the company is shirking its responsibility in the incident. The company knows it has “a legal responsibility” to the families of those who lost their lives, those injured and certainly to a lesser extent (financially), to ship’s guests and employees.

Yes, there will be lawyers. Yes, there will be lawsuits. This is a given. Now, it is the issues below that must be addressed:

A)    How to mitigate the future financial impact on the company based on the public’s perception (of it?)
B)    How (well, or not well) the public perceives the company handles the crisis/situation?
C)    How the company will ensure to the public that this type of thing cannot, will not happen again?

Within the framework of the above, there are the following subsets of issues on the agenda. The company knows it will take a short term financial hit. This has already been covered by industry analysts, reported in the news and even a separate statement issued by Carnival Cruise Company Chairman, Mickey Arison; this is addressed below. The next subset of goals for the immediate crisis communications strategy is to:

A)    Soften that financial blow as much as is possible. For example, preserving their calendar of already “booked cruise reservations.” A massive cancellation of bookings would take on tsunami-like financial implications to the company. To achieve this goal takes on its on separate internal and external marketing and public relations agenda, which the company MUST be thinking about activating quickly.
B)    Minimize the potential negative consumer perception of the incident to reduce the length of the near-term rebound.

In total, this is the immediate agenda of the Public Relations Crisis Communications Management Team. The company can indeed achieve these goals in various ways, and it has already begun employing communications tactics to do so.

Read the Full Case Study Now: http://www.thebambooagency.wordpress.com

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jeff mustard
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