Friday, March 29, 2013

Still No New Crises Just A Quicker Way To Get Hammered

The other day a long-time associate and I were talking about a non-crisis that came close to becoming a real one because of speculation that reared its ugly head on the social media.

As I was briefing her on the non-incident and how quickly it got attention on Facebook and Twitter, she asked if I was willing to admit there are "new" crises?  The Institute for Crisis Management has preached for 20-years there are no new crises.  There is nothing bad that can happen to you and your business or organization that hasn't already happened to someone else.

I assured her that so far, I've still not seen any new crises, HOWEVER, almost weekly we see crises that are variations on the same old themes but requiring almost instant response.

In other words, the same kinds of damaging events keep popping up, but they strike and spread so much more quickly than ever.

For some of our younger readers and clients it may be hard to comprehend the difference in just a few years.  It hasn't been all that many years ago, an organization could have something go wrong and it might take a few days for a newspaper reporter to find out about it.  Then, the first story appeared in print and you had hours to prepare a response and almost 24-hours before the "second" story appeared with your side included.

Then radio news came along and sped up the spread of "bad news" and pressed organizations in trouble to respond quicker.  Television news created a whole new challenge to respond and nothing much has changed in recent years, UNTIL the explosion of  social media.

And, the only thing that has really changed, is how prepared you must be and how quickly you must react and respond if you want to get the problem behind you and get back to normal or the new normal in your company or organization.

There are still the same tried and true rules of engagement, such as identifying your key stakeholder audiences, which will almost always be headed by employees.  Prepare messaging targeted to each key audience including employees, partners, vendors, customers and investors.

One of the most challenging social media issues is how to monitor them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  An issue that begins to spread on social media in the middle of the night can stir up a significant negative impact hours before your organization is aware and begins to consider a response.

Friday, March 15, 2013

If It Happened to Carnival Could It Happen To Us?

Of course it could/can/will!

Just when you thought Carnival Cruise Lines was over the hump and the cruise crowd was beginning to forget about their most recent "crisis," two more of their ships made headlines within 24-hours of
each other.

About a month after an engine room fire triggered electrical failure on the Carnival Triumph, stranding thousands of passengers adrift for five days, with the anticipated negative news coverage, the Carnival Dream with about 3,000 passengers on board had "technical issues," whatever that is, and could not leave the port in St. Maarten, and a day later the Carnival Legend, with an estimated 2,000 passengers was limping slowly back to port in Tampa with mechanical problems.

The company immediately offered cash back, discounts on a future cruise and air fare to get the St. Maarten stranded passengers back home.

Carnival was already facing at least four lawsuits, including a class action lawsuit, from the Triumph debacle.

If the vaunted Carnival Cruise Line can experience these kinds of back-to-back bad-news events, why would you think your business or organization would be exempt?

It appears Carnival did learn a few things from the earlier "Triumph" problem, but apparently not enough. 

I do not profess to be an expert on cruise ship mechanicals, but three failures on three different ships in little more than three weeks, seems to raise serious questions about inspection policies and preventive maintenance. 

The Institute for Crisis Management maintains that roughly two-thirds of all business crises are preventable, and if we were consulted by the leadership of Carnival, we would encourage them to step up their preventive measures and fine-tune and polish their internal and public response procedures.