Sunday, April 25, 2010

Crisis Communication: Who got a A+

“Crisis communications is a branch of PR that is designed to protect it and defend an individual, company, or organization, usually from a reactive response, facing a swelling public challenge to its reputation, brand, and community.” Brian Solis

Crisis communication can be used everyday around the world. People working in public relations must be prepared for a crisis when representing a company, brand or specific individuals. There are five essential types of crisis these people might face in their career. There are self provoked crisis, Smoldering crisis, malicious attacks, organized attacks, and natural disasters. Today I learned the new wave of crisis communication dealing with a natural disaster. The recent volcano eruption in Iceland not only blew ash into the air, it blew a crisis to every airline in Europe. There were no flights in or out of the airports and people were stuck. This frustration of cancelled flights, lost luggage, and  people stuck at airports and hotels caused a uproar against the airlines. Many people were ranting about long wait times of calls and complaining about how the airlines were handling the situation. Some of the airlines dealt with the crisis the wrong way. They did not address the customer’s questions, provide information to be easily accessible to the public, or tell the customers of their plans for the days to come. The people were extremely angry. However, one of the airlines did know how to deal with the crisis the right way. KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines was put in the same situation as the other airlines but instead of shutting out communication from the public they used the 5 C’s:
Concern – Clarity – Control – Conference - Competence

 KLM used their website to provide information to their customers stuck in the crisis. Instead of using phone lines they published “ Frequently asked Questions” and the answers to them so customers may understand the next steps to take. They also addressed individual questions on Twitter by replying to customer tweets. The airline also published updates on their Facebook page to communicate more information to their public. They  provided a video from the CEO on their Facebook page where he explained the current information and apologized for any incontinence. 

KLM used the 5 C’s to rise high above the crisis while other airlines were left in the clutter and confusion.  They get an A+ in my book.

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