Carnival Public Relations Crisis
During such a fast paced media environment, people expect answers quickly in a crisis. If they are not getting answers quickly, people are will turn to social media to revolt. This is exactly what happened with the Carnival Cruise Line when a cruise ship from its Costa subsidiary sunk off the coast of Italy, resulting in loss of life and dramatic pictures of the ship turned on its side were released. Did we mention there were also 4,200 tweeting and FB posting passengers?
Carnival was extremely slow and ineffective in responding to the situation. The company’s CEO took days to address the public and issue a statement expressing sadness and the subpar conditions for passengers still on the ship. The CEO’s statement did not include an apology or promise any appropriate action steps to remedy the situation (offering a free robe or $500 is less then adequate).
A strong crisis communications plan is critical to have in place. The company did not have a public relations team ready for a crisis situation. Here are the action steps Carnival should take from a PR perspective to turn this around:
- Implement a crisis PR strategy and hire a team to execute the plan. If they do not wish to put one together internally, it would be beneficial to hire an external PR Team who specializes in crisis PR.
- Release a timely press release to the media. Make the CEO accessible and show that he is vested in what happened and that he is implementing a solution.
- Offer the passengers something of value, not a $500 voucher. This will only make the situation worse!
At your company, always be prepared for something to go wrong. Every day brings new challenges, especially in a fast paced digital environment. A spokesperson, aside from the CEO, should be prepared to give a briefing to the public and speak on behalf of the company if any type of crisis situation occurs. Your crisis communication team should be prepared to send out press releases immediately and not waste ANY TIME! Furthermore, the crisis PR team should have a solid social media strategy integrated into the plan to respond to negative tweets such as the one below!