Responding to Crisis

Communication Guidelines for Shipping and Airline Industries in the Caribbean

Friday, June 3, 2016

About SpokenWrite - Your Crisis Communication Experts

SpokenWrite is a small project-based team of professionals led by me, Rochelle Robinson. I am a column writer, crisis communication specialist and mediator. I am currently pursuing post graduate studies in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Nova Southeastern University. At SpokenWrite, we understand that it's not always easy for you to say exactly what you mean in the way that you want. We want to help you to take the stress out of writing with our proven techniques. Whether you are working on a tough letter on a harsh topic or a lighthearted wedding speech, suffer from writer's block no more. Relax, trust us and let us say it in the right way for you. The Spokenwrite team offers a wide range of services. Each project is unique and personalized accordingly. Your request will initially be reviewed by a team of experts who will brainstorm and articulate ideas for you. SpokenWrite delivers on-time solutions, tailored to your needs with exceptional results. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Crisis will happen - What to consider when responding...

In shipping and airline industries, due to their multifunction role of border control and facilitators of travel and trade, events defined as crisis usually attract the attention of the media, and sometimes in a negative light. Therefore it is incumbent on the role of the directors, public relations, human resource departments or any other department responsible for press release and media response to apply effective communications management that not only addresses the organizational response to the crisis and determine the kind of communication through the media will be handled, but also, special attention must be made to the timing, the technique and the tone.

Did you follow the Costa Concordia Crisis? What are your thoughts on how the crisis was responded to?

Costa Concordia survivors tell Congress they felt 'betrayed'


Divya and Sameer Sharma had just ordered appetizers aboard the Costa Concordia on Jan. 13 when the cruise ship lurched and the lights went out, plunging diners into darkness.

"There was a violent shaking of the ship followed by loud crash noises as the plates and glasses broke," Divya Sharma said at a House subcommittee on maritime transportation hearing Wednesday. "Everyone nearby started screaming."

After emergency lights came on, the Massachusetts couple celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary climbed six flights of stairs to their room. Despite a lack of emergency training since boarding the ship that day near Rome, Divya Sharma knew they had life jackets in their closet where she had put her husband's jacket.

But she says crewmembers wouldn't say why the ship was listing badly to port just off the Italian coast. The problem was explained as an electrical malfunction, although the couple would later learn the ship had struck rocks that gashed a 160-foot hole in the ship's side.

An overcrowded lifeboat, which had trouble in the current moving away from the towering ship, eventually carried the couple safely to shore, though others among the 4,200 people on the disastrous cruise weren't as lucky.

"We felt very betrayed, very much lied to," Sameer Sharma said. "We trusted these people with our lives and they took that for granted. They were not honest with us at any given point."

The Capitol Hill hearing was called to explore the Costa Concordia shipwreck that killed 25 people, with seven still missing, off the Italian island of Giglio and to determine whether cruise ships are safe, and cruise lines and their crews are properly equipped to deal with emergencies at sea.

It comes as one of the Concordia's sister ships, the Costa Allegra, is disabled near the Seychelles and is being towed to port. It is expected to arrive Thursday — three days after it lost power and began drifting in the Indian Ocean with more than 1,000 passengers and crew aboard.

Lawmakers and a top U.S. Coast Guard official repeatedly stressed that cruise ships are safe and placed blame on Concordia's Capt. Francesco Schettino, who has acknowledged steering the ship too close to shore and leaving the ship before all passengers were evacuated. He is under house arrest as Italian authorities investigate the accident.

"We had a captain that forgot he was a captain," said Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, himself a licensed captain.

"I don't know of any professional mariner who is willing to step up and defend the apparent lack of leadership that occurred on that ship," said Coast Guard Vice Adm. Brian Salerno, deputy commandant for operations.

Salerno said the Coast Guard has conducted 36 drills of large-passenger ships. But he said the investigation should offer lessons for dealing with emergencies on such large ships, including how much water got into the ship.

The cruise industry agreed voluntarily to begin safety briefings for passengers when they board, rather than sometime during the first 24 hours of a cruise, as is current law.

"Safety is this industry's No. 1 priority," said Christine Duffy, president of Cruise Lines International Association. "As an industry, we are wholly committed to examining what happened and to identifying lessons that can be learned."

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who is chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he would schedule a roundtable with the Coast Guard to develop new laws for cruise lines.

In particular, Mica talked about improving evacuation equipment because lifeboats don't work on a badly tilting ship. He expressed worries about what would have happened if the ship had sunk entirely in deeper water.

"If it had sunk, the number of deaths would have been incredible," Mica said.

Still, the accident was scary enough for passengers. Asked if she would ever cruise again, Divya Sharma said, "Not in the near future, no."

Cruise Industry Leaders Look Past Concordia Deaths - ABC News

Cruise Industry Leaders Look Past Concordia Deaths - ABC News

Sunday, November 21, 2010

| Delta jet makes emergency landing at JFK in New York

Update to previous post:

The plane has landed safely and all passengers are unharmed.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from LIME.

News Alert

News Alert: Emergency Units Responding to Reports of Fire on Plane at Kennedy Airport. Awaiting landing of plane

Info will be Updated as soon as received.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device from LIME.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


To my son, Mikhai Joshua, my one and only reason.

To my Mother, Joycelyn Robinson, my sunshine, whose prayers and tears supported me through numerous crises.

In all crises, be still and know.

Flight 1549 3D Reconstruction, Hudson River Ditching Jan 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Crisis Communication Plan

After reviewing various communication plans projected in the various literature, it was identified that the most effective crisis communication plans have certain critical components in common.

Although communications will vary in specific from one organization to the other and from one crisis to the other, the following details should be considered when creating a communications plan:
1. Introduction – The head of the company usually writes this to stress the necessity and importance of the plan and the dire results possible when a plan is not followed. It may also include ground rules that are applicable despite the nature of the crisis.
2. Acknowledgements – An affidavit signed by all crisis personnel as well as key executives indicating that they have read the plan and are prepared to put it in effect.
3. Purpose and Objectives – Details the organization’s policies toward is publics for e.g. ‘To be seen in the media as a company that cares about its customers and employees’ or ‘to make certain that all communications are accurate’.
4. List of Key Publics – A list of all publics internal and external with which the organization must communicate during the crisis. This list will vary but may include: board members, shareholders, financial partners, investors, customers, competitors, key management etc.
5. Notifying Publics – A system devised for contacting each public.
6. Indentifying the Crisis Communications Team – Selecting the roles of the team members if the crisis communications team and outlining specific responsibilities.
7. Crisis Directory - Contact information for all members of the crisis team, key managers, and key publics or organizations.
8. Identifying the Media Spokesperson - Spokesperson or spokespersons should be selected carefully. To the public, this person is the company. Articulate and pre-trained.
9. List of Emergency Personnel and Local Officials – List of contact information for police, fire officials, hospitals, health department, utilities, paramedics etc.
10. List of Key Media – List of media contacts, newspapers, television, reporter/journalists’ contact numbers.
11. Spokespersons for related organizations – Whenever a crisis occurs there may be a spokesperson outside of the company that may be contacted. It will be useful to create a list of who these people might be and their contact information so that they may be reached at any time.
12. Crisis Communications Control Center – The location of the crisis communications control center must be determined in case regular office space is unavailable due to disaster or emergency.
13. Pre-gathered information – Prepare and gather various documents that may possibly be needed during a crisis like a media kit or company brochures, skeletal news releases can be prepared in advance by leaving blank spaces for the data to be later filled in.
14. Key Messages - The main points that must be addressed in the messages to the key publics and guidelines for constructing them have been discussed earlier.
15. Web Site – Placing news on the company’s website and pre-appointing webmasters to keep updated information on the site.
16. Trick Questions – Predicting and identifying types of trick questions that may be asked by media personnel
17. List of Prodromes – Prodromes are warning signs that crisis may occur and these should be listed in the plan. Heeding prodromes can often prevent a crisis and should therefore be regularly updated.
18. List of Internet Websites - List the website links that may provide useful information during a crisis.
19. Evaluation Form – A crucial step in assessing what did and did not work. It helps to plan for, prevent and cope with future crises by pointed out what needs to be revised in the communications plan.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Guidelines for responding to crisis

Some guidelines for responding to crisis in shipping and airline industries are as follows:

The research study has established that before the crisis communications messages are ever released to the media there should be an appointed spokesperson on behalf of the organization/company. This may be the communications or public relations manager or someone authorized to speak on behalf of the company or organization. It is useful to recommend that the official spokesperson appoint a crisis team and be trained in public speaking on how to interact effectively with the media.

Plan ahead:
Equally important is that this spokesperson and his/her team needs to plan in advance to be able to be contacted if an emergency or crisis is unfolding. Crises do not always occur during work hours so emergency contact information should be left on the voicemail greeting of the company’s telephone system or auto reply emails after work hours or this information should be placed on the company’s website so that the spokesperson is reachable at any time and is the first to know when a crisis is unfolding. It may be useful that the spokesperson develops a good friendly relationship with key personnel in the media, fire and police departments so that he or she can be contacted if a crisis is developing.

Create a crisis comunication plan:
Once potential crises have been identified, the crisis communications plan can be formulated. A crisis communications plan for an organization in either airline or shipping industries can be part of a larger crisis management plan. Notwithstanding, the crisis communication plan may be a document by itself to assist the nominated communicator to handle the crisis communication more effectively. Elements of a crisis communication plan to guide the process as a whole are discussed further however in essence, it is a hypothetical guide of what is to be done in case a particular situation develops for example, the plan of action to be taken if an airplane after landing, overshoots the runway and crashes off the site of the airport. The communications plan would therefore have as many scenarios as may be predicted to be the worst case scenarios of crisis for the particular organization.

Central to the communication plan are the guidelines determining the timing, technique and tone of the key message, the crisis communication response for shipping and airline industries in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

In terms of timing, it is suggested that, as soon as a situation of crisis that may attract negative attention to the organization occurs and is reported by the media, the first press release should be issued to the media houses on the same day, or as close as possible to the when the event occurred.

In terms of technique, the communication response should be released to the media/public via email, television, radio or online newspapers, since to do so by print would not be immediately available. It is recommended that this press release also be placed on the company’s home page of the website for easy updates. The first press release should briefly state the facts of what is the nature of the crisis that occurred and the time it occurred and if all the details are not yet known it should be stated that investigations are ongoing.

The technique becomes more challenging when the response is being directly delivered for example live on television or on radio than a written message via online or print. In that case it is important in delivering the message live that the spokesperson remains calm, courteous, positive, concerned and if apologetic that the crisis has occurred. The most important recommendation is to be honest and depict the organization as such.

Whether it is via live broadcast, face to face, or written, the organization’s spokesperson must be mindful of what techniques to use in the delivery of the message. In answering questions posed by media personnel, the spokesperson must be mindful of the confirmed available facts and repeat them if necessary but avoid speculation and predictions. The spokesperson must also be trained to detect trick questions and leading questions from a reporter eager to get a sensationalized story and hence be able to ask the reporter to rephrase questions if necessary. If the spokesperson does not know the answer for a question, he or she should say so but under no circumstance say that he/she will not comment because the connotation it gives is in itself a commentary.

The Key Message:
In terms of the tone of that actual message released to the media in the initial press release, exhaustive details are not necessary at this stage. Nevertheless, the first key message on behalf of the company requires careful calculation to ensure that the tone of delivery is intentionally balanced for the specific purpose of damage control. During a crisis, this message has to be quickly constructed with very little time to ponder it so it is the spokesperson trained for crisis communication response that will be able to quickly deliver a message that will be strategically effective towards damage control. Subliminal messages as earlier highlighted in the theoretical framework with the use of pictures and background music may be even used on the company’s website to portray certain themes like symbols of peace in the midst of a civil disturbance affecting operations or symbols of patriotism and resilience in the case of terrorism. A recent case example of this is in May 2010 when civil unrest caused the ports to be closed in Jamaica, Seaboard Marine, a shipping line with locations in all the Caribbean islands posted an advisory on their website with a picture of a peace candle in its background.

The recommended approach in constructing the tone of the company’s key message is to appear in its delivery to be co-operative, open and honest. This will inadvertently reduce the likelihood of misinterpretation or misrepresentation which may occur with an otherwise damaging "no comment" response the media. In the very first press release, it may be likely that all the information is not available or has not yet been confirmed. It is important to highlight this in the message. It is important to work along with the media instead of against it. It is also useful to have a few media kits/brochures about the company if background information on the organization is requested.

Press conferences should never be held unless the media requests it. The press release with company’s key message should suffice as the initial crisis communication response.

Fearn-Banks (2007) highlighted that the Apologia theory is an approach taken to defend reputation and protect image without necessarily making an apology. She explained that the organization’s effort may deny, explain, or apologize for the action through communication discourse. Because, apologia may manifest itself by the organization either contradicting, totally denying the charges, it is not recommended to take this approach. The probable tones for crisis communication response have been coded in the research for the analysis of the case studies and it was found that in all crises, regardless of whose fault it is, the company should become ‘human’ and express regret and apologize that the crisis has occurred in the key message in the first press release. This communicative response style of becoming human is useful in any situation; whether the media is involved or when the media is never involved. In a random case of an internal crisis within the organization where no media attention is ever attracted; whether negative or otherwise, management personnel must nonetheless offer a response to staff for the sake of damage control.

Become 'human'
The company’s becoming human is based on the theory of Semiotics which highlights the significance of using the symbol of language to convey meanings and impressions. Symbols conveying emotive messages which are uplifting and optimistic are useful in the midst of crisis. This reason that becoming human is necessary for the company is because the first day of crisis response is definitely not the time to point fingers and become defensive. Therefore, denying and contradicting the details of the crisis should not be the main characteristic of the message. Messages should instead reflect the organization’s mission statement and should attempt to reinforce optimism and be solution-oriented if possible.

Be aware:
There are cases in which crisis is exaggerated by the media for the sake of sensationalism. This highlights the suggestions put forward by Cohen (1963) on Agenda Setting in which he stated that the press and the media do not reflect reality; they filter and shape it and that media concentration on a few issues and subjects leads the public to perceive those issues as more important than other issues. The organization involved in the crisis has to be mindful of this scenario and deflect negative attention if reports suggest that the issue has been blown out of proportion. Likewise, the organization must however be careful not to be intentional trivializing the situation merely to avoid the spotlight.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Crisis Communication Tips

Barbara J. Reynolds, Ph.D. Crisis Communication Specialist, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr Reynolds is the author of the 2002 book Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication and CDC's Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication course

• In a crisis first impressions do count. People expect the first event update early but not necessarily to answer all their questions at once
• Before a crisis, understand audiences by their connection to the event, differences in psychological approach to crises, and culture.
• In a crisis, a lack of continuity, control & resources, or a lack of knowledge about the event can invoke fear and threaten social unity.
• Think you have a workable crisis communication plan? Who must clear your first messages? Ever timed it? Still think the plan works?
• Crisis planning begs for solid networking. No one can “go it alone” in crises and expect their communication to meet public demands.
• Sure crises are chaotic, but you can anticipate types of crises and the likely initial questions. A good plan is not “fill in the blank.”
• During a crisis, messages are judged on the speed of delivery and relevance. Answer questions that matter. Acknowledge what you don’t know.
• A quick way to lose credibility in a crisis is to have “competing” recommendations from responders. Work together for consistent messages.
• Understanding the pattern of a crisis helps communicators anticipate problems. Before a crisis, foster alliances with other responders.
• Show Respect: Treat people the way you want to be treated—the way you want loved ones treated—even when dire or “hot” facts must be given.
• Promote Action: Give people things to do. It calms anxiety and helps restore order.
• When people are hurting, express empathy: Acknowledge in words what people are feeling—it builds trust. “We understand this is worrisome”
• Do not withhold to avoid the “panic” that seldom happens. Uncertainty is worse than not knowing—rumors are more damaging than hard truths.
• Give facts in increments. Tell people what you know when you know it, tell them what you don’t know, and tell them if you will know later.
• In a crisis, if the information is yours to provide, do so as soon as possible. If you can’t—then explain how you are working to get it.
• To help save lives during disasters: be first, be right, and be credible. Messages should express empathy, promote action, and show respect.

Plane crash at Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport -

Plane crash at Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport -

Saturday, November 28, 2009

PM applauds response to cruise ship fire -

PM applauds response to cruise ship fire -

Princess Cruises Ship Fire

Date of Incident: March 23, 2006

A fire broke out aboard the A Princess Cruises Ship, the Star Princess early Thursday, March 23, 2006 as it pulled up to the Montego Bay port of Jamaica leaving one passenger dead, 11 people injured and at least 100 rooms scorched.

News articles on incident and date within the first 10 articles under Google search:
1. March 25, 2006
2. March 11, 2007
3. March 24, 2006
4. March 24, 2006
5. April 1, 2008
6. March 23, 2006
7. January 25, 2007
8. March 23, 2006
9. March 23, 2006
10. March 24, 2006

Summary of Crisis Communication Response:
The captain’s response as the incident unfolded was quoted by one of the unnamed news articles was relayed by a passenger as immediately coming over the intercom and reassuring passengers that everything was going to be all right.
A Princess Cruise statement identified also said that as a result of a fire caused by a cigarette, two passengers suffered “significant smoke inhalation injuries” and nine others had “minor complications.”
According to’s Susan Lim, the cruise company had sent letters to passengers stating that full cruise fares and air transportation will be reimbursed. Passengers who booked air transportation separately were advised to fill out a form and state their destination cities. Princess will arrange flights for Friday and Saturday.
Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association’s response was that a smoldering cigarette was suspected as the cause of the blaze. This was reported to have been said Horace Peterkin, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, who toured the ship after it docked.
The U.S. Coast Guard dispatched investigators and fire engineers to help determine the fire’s cause and whether the ship was seaworthy, Coast Guard Petty Officer James Judge who was reported to have said that teams were expected to arrive and the number one concern right now is safety.

Press Releases were issued to the media within hours on the same day as well as on the day after the incident by representatives from the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Princess Cruises and the Jamaica Constabulary Communication Network. Passengers who survived the fire were immediately communicated to and reassured by the Princess Cruises Staff and offered hotel accommodation. On the following day, letters were given to the passengers confirming reimbursement of cruise fares and air transportation return tickets to their destination cities.

There was face to face verbal communication between Princess Cruise’s Management and the surviving passengers to reassure them and make arrangements for hotel accommodation. Letters were issued by hand to all the affected passengers addressing the situation.
In the press release issued to the media, the company statement gave descriptive information saying that two passengers suffered “significant smoke inhalation injuries” and nine others had “minor complications.”
During the press conference held, Julie Benson, spokeswoman for Princess Cruises, which is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp said that passengers grabbed life jackets and raced to “muster stations” after the fire started about 3 a.m. The crew put out the fire, then did a cabin-by-cabin search to check for victims and make sure everyone else was safe, she said.

The tones identified in the various responses were:
Explanatory – explaining what happened, how it happened, contextualizing the details
Compassionate – use of reassuring, comforting words
Authoritative – using authoritative jargon like statistics, expert advice, referring to authoritative data.

The crisis was handled well from beginning to end. The underlined statement about the captain coming on the intercom to reassure passengers was particularly commendable. In the midst of crisis, the first response of the company involved is what should contain what is known as the key message, this is explored further in the analysis and discussion section. In this case the message was reassuring and comforting to frightened emotional passengers.
The fact that Princess Cruise did not cover up the tragedy and was honest about what may have caused the fire was also commendable. Princess Cruise became human (a concept further explored in the analysis and discussion section) by their comforting reassuring gesture of accommodation and reimbursement. The spokesperson’s account of the incident gives the impression that the must important concern of the cruise line is the safety of its customer. It is that kind of positive messaging and gesture that deflects negative attention from being cast on a company’s reputation. Also, it was clear that only one spokesperson was appointed to speak on the company’s behalf.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Security forces get high marks for handling of hijack crisis -

Security forces get high marks for handling of hijack crisis -

Canjet Attempted Hijacking

Date of Incident. April 20, 2009

On Sunday, April 19, 2009, a Canjet plane scheduled to depart Montego Bay, Jamaica for Canada via Cuba, was held hostage by a man. The hijacker, later identified as 21-year-old Stephen Fray, eluded security measures Sunday night before brandishing a handgun and allegedly demanded money from the passengers while requesting that he be flown to Cuba. According to reports, all passengers were subsequently released by Fray after he received cash, but six crew were held hostage until the standoff ended early Monday morning.

News articles on incident and date within the first 10 articles under Google search.
1. no date
2. April 20, 2009
3. April 20, 2009
4. April 21, 2009
5. May 13, 2009
6. no date
7. May 8, 2009
8. May 16, 2009
9. May 9, 2009
10. no date

Summary of Crisis Communication Response:
The Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding and other Government ministers, as well as officials from the tourism sector, visited and spoke with the passengers and crew apologized for the incident and presented them with souvenirs before their departure on a 4:35pm flight.
Daryl Vaz, who has responsibility for information, told the Observer that after Fray was captured by Jamaica Defence Force soldiers he was found with Can$8,500 and US$500.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also praised the CanJet crew as well as the Jamaican security forces for resolving the hostage drama without violence. Harper, who is in Jamaica on an official visit, offered his congratulations for the "safe relief of the passengers and crew" at a joint press conference with Golding at the VIP Lounge at the Sangster International Airport
Airports Authority of Jamaica’s responded: "We are not aware of anything yet," as per chairman of the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ) Earl Richards adding that he was in a meeting with Transport Minister Mike Henry to discuss the incident.
In the wake of the incident, one CanJet official on CNN yesterday morning quickly distanced his company from any impropriety, suggesting that the hijack resulted from a failure of the airport and not of his airline.
Kent Woodside, vice president of the Halifax-based CanJet, lauded the airplane's crew, saying that staff was trained to deal with hijackings. He added that the fact that everyone got off the Boeing 737 unharmed showed that their training worked. "I'm just so proud how they dealt with it all," he told a news conference reported in his Halifax, Nova Scotia, hometown. According to the report, Woodside said that the airline would work with officials in Jamaica to determine how the man, described as having "mental issues," was able to storm the aircraft armed with a gun.
Sandals Resorts’ response on the following day was to offer a one-week all expense paid vacation to the 159 passengers and eight crew members of the CanJet airline that was hijacked at the Sangster International Airport Sunday night. The gesture was announced by Sandals CEO Adam Stewart during a visit to the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in this resort city where some of the passengers and crew were being housed, following the ordeal. Stewart, who said the package would cost the hotel chain US$600,000, noted that the offer can be taken up at any of its properties across the island. “We want to make this kind gesture on behalf of our team members and in fact, on behalf of all of Jamaicans," Stewart told the Jamaica Observer. Added Stewart: "What the passengers and crew have gone through is not easy and we want to show our appreciation." Canada, he noted, provides the Sandals chain with 23 per cent of its business.

The entire ordeal in which the hijacker engaged in a standoff, lasted approximately eight hours. During this period and within less than two hours after the incident started, there were worldwide reports on CNN and BBC with responses from the airline, the Jamaican Government, the Jamaican Police and the Airport documented in the local and international media. Most of the documented responses in the media by institutions of individuals directly affected by the ordeal were identified on the day following the incident. Within one day, the CEO of a hotel chain communicated to the media and the passengers about an offer of a free vacation at any of the member hotels.

Government officials had face to face dialogue with the passengers affected, apologizing for the incident and offering Jamaican Souvenirs. While the incident was ongoing, the Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding arrived by helicopter at the scene, to attempt negotiations with the hijacker and reassure the passengers who by that time were already released.
A Press Conference was held on the day following the incident in which Government officials, the airport, the police and representatives from the Tourism Industry spoke with the media.

The tones identified were as follows:
Apologetic – acknowledging guilt, depicting apology, saying sorry
Explanatory – explaining what happened, how it happened, contextualizing the details
Defensive – deliberate effort to dissociate company or individual from any wrongdoing
Dismissive – trivializing event, or indicating that there is no crisis
New Media Technology. For the purpose of this case study, it is useful to highlight that this ordeal was first learnt of within an hour after the ordeal started by Blackberry Facebook status updates:
One status update by Latoya S. on April 21 at 12:36am stated “Jamaican hijacker take over plane in Montego Bay…Montego Bay under lockdown? Say it aint so!”
Her next update on April 21 at 12:50am stated: “Shots Fired on the Plane, white Jamaican male holding Montego Bay Airport hostage”
Another status update by Karen L on April 21 at 12:39am stated: “Hijack in Montego Bay to rass, what the hell is going on!”
As a commentary on the use of new media, when news of the crisis just unfolded, a cellular phone was used to call Superintendent of Police, Delroy Hewitt who was on duty in Kingston Jamaica and he confirmed that there was indeed a hijacking in Montego Bay however it was still going on and “details are sketchy” (personal communication, April 21, 2009). By that time, details were beginning to emerge via Facebook.
Throughout the rest of the day all updates on the incident for the purpose of this research were received via Facebook updates and via Blackberry internet whereby websites such as, Radio, and were accessed.

The crisis was not handled well by the all responders as there seemed to have been no clear spokesperson for the Government. While Daryl Vaz gave an update it was still unclear that the statements were on behalf of all in the Government because while Vaz trivialized the event to the careless young ‘lad’, the prime minister was reported to have gone on site to negotiate with the hijacker, further spiraling national attention.
Canjet’s response was disappointing. Before distancing themselves from the incident and pointing fingers to an obvious breach in security, the airline should have first become human and express regret for the occurrence while expressing gratitude that lives were spared and there were no injuries. The airline could have also empathized with the passengers’ psychological trauma and like Stewart’s offer of accommodation, it would have been useful to use the opportunity for marketing and offer the return trip free of charge and discounts to future passengers to Jamaica.
With that said, Stewart’s offer of a free accommodation of one week vacation spoke volumes to the kind of crisis communication response that deflects negative attention from an otherwise traumatic experience. This is an example of crisis communication response at its best with his release to the media that “this kind gesture was on behalf of our team members and in fact, on behalf of all of Jamaicans.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Air Jamaica plane seized in Miami-

Air Jamaica plane seized in Miami -

Case 1
Air Jamaica Plane seized by Creditors
Date of Incident. November 9, 2006

The Air Jamaica plane was seized in Miami, Florida at about 4:30 pm on November 9, 2006 by agents from the International Lease Financing Corporation, acting on behalf of creditors to whom the airline owes some US$7 million, leaving 96 passengers stranded at the Miami International Airport.

News articles on incident and date reported within the first 10 articles under Google search:
1. November 9, 2006
2. November 10, 2006
3. January 21, 2007
4. November 11, 2006
5. November 9, 2006
6. November 10, 2006
7. February 7, 2007
8. November 17, 2006
9. December 10, 2006
10. December 13, 2006

Summary of Crisis Communication Response:
On the day of the incident, Air Jamaica's Chief Executive Officer Mike Conway confirmed the seizure reported that "things are back to normal" at the airport. He said a "mutually acceptable agreement" was reached by both partners and "the aircraft was put back into service". He explained that the action was triggered by nervousness on the part of the lessor.
In a release issued to the media the following day, Air Jamaica assured passengers that the situation was a misunderstanding, and apologized to the individuals who were affected by the incident. They were also reassured of full compensation of lunch vouchers, telephone calls to relatives, hotel accommodation and shuttle service where applicable.
According to a Cayman news site, the Cay Compass, the Jamaican Government gave the commitment to keep the airline flying.

Press Releases were issued to the media within hours on the same day of the incident. Another press release was issued on the following day by Air Jamaica’s Chief Executive Officer Mike Conway. Passengers who were stranded were communicated to immediately after the incident, all were offered lunch vouchers, telephone calls to relatives, hotel accommodation and shuttle service where applicable and on the following day, return tickets on another flight to their destination were offered. The media was immediately alerted of these new developments.

There was face to face verbal communication between Air Jamaica’s supervisory personnel and passengers in an attempt to briefly explain the cause of the delay and apologize to the affected passengers. According to an employee of Air Jamaica who was present during the ordeal who has requested anonymity, full details were not disclosed to the 96 passengers however the incident was attributed to “a misunderstanding concerning the lease of the aircraft”.
In the formal press release issued to the media explaining the company assured the public that the situation was a misunderstanding, and apologized to the individuals who were affected by the incident.

The tones identified were initially withholding then explanatory then apologetic. In the Jamaica Observer article, Dunkley (2006) reported:
He (Air Jamaica’s CEO) said a "mutually acceptable agreement" was reached by both partners and "the aircraft was put back into service". The carrier's CEO claimed the lessor's actions had been prompted by concerns stemming from media reports which carried statements about possible downsizing at the airline. Conway expressed regret for the inconvenience caused to passengers.

The crisis was handled well. The timing was on point as the response from the company was released on the same day of the incident. The technique was also useful because the victims of the crisis would have needed that personalized attention due to the nature of the crisis in which they were stranded and needed assistance right away. In this case a letter or an online response would not have been appropriate and so the supervisor who apologized to the passengers and arranged for them to be compensated was commendable.
Considering that the airline was already the subject of negative media attention, the offer for reimbursement was useful to deflect negative attention. It was helpful that the CEO was completely honest and did not try to cover up the details even though they may have been embarrassing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Timing, Technique & Tone - The 3 keys of Crisis Communication

This examines the sequence of events documented in the local and print media that illustrates the period of time taken after the incident occurred before a response whether formal or informal was documented in the Jamaican or Caribbean media.

This refers to how the documented response to the public was given by the individuals or companies involved, whether by face to face, formal press release, via internet, televised or radio broadcast.

This refers to the emotive style utilized in the response messages. The tones coded were as follows:

Apologetic – acknowledging guilt, depicting apology, saying sorry

Explanatory – explaining what happened, how it happened, contextualizing the details

Defensive – deliberate effort to dissociate company or individual from any wrongdoing

Neutral – facts only depicting date, time, place, outcome without explaining how it happened or depicting any emotions

Persuasive – deliberate effort to convince public to agree with the company’s or individual’s stance taken

Compassionate – use of reassuring, comforting words

Authoritative – using authoritative jargon like statistics, expert advice, referring to authoritative data

Dismissive – trivializing event, or indicating that there is no crisis

No Comment - Either by actual silence or indicating “no comment”

Withholding – deliberately avoiding vital information

Monday, August 10, 2009

Definition of Terms

Any situation that creates a threatening situation to the integrity or reputation of a company or organization, usually accompanied by undesirable negative media attention.

Caribbean Region
CARICOM (Caribbean Community) Member States includes Jamaica, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Monsterrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago
Crisis Communication. A set of concepts, principles, analysis and working methods that apply specifically to how an organization or individual responds to a crisis via written verbal discourse

Shipping Industries
Companies that are involved in all elements of ocean transportation including transportation of cargo and/or individuals

Airline Industries
Companies that are involved in all elements of air transportation including transportation of cargo and/or individuals

Communication Guidelines
A hypothetic plan of action suggesting techniques and procedures which organizations and individuals may potentially use in the event that they are faced with a crisis that requires a response via media whether written or verbal.