Take a look at what’s happened to the cruise industry over the last couple of years:
- Two “poop” cruises
- Costa Concordia capsizes in Italy
- Norovirus sickening passengers
- Two separate drowning incidents involving small children in a ship’s swimming pool
That’s just a partial list. Yet, if you go online to book a cruise, there are lots of discounts, but ships are sailing full. It’s also important to note that statistically; cruising is safe, considering that more than 20 million people walk the gangway each year to take a cruise vacation. Ask a “cruiser” if the recent issues would cause them to think twice, and surveys show that confidence remains. Anecdotally, ask anyone else and you might get a different response.
Other industries would love to have the cruise industry’s Teflon coating. Think pink slime, the controversy over the approved use of “lean textured meat”. Not one person got sick or died and it was never illegal. However a combination of social media attacks and a lack of action by the industry resulted in meat packing companies going out of business and the loss of hundreds of jobs.
We don’t have the Kevlar formula to make your organization more bulletproof. So, we’ll offer a look at the 3 stages of a crisis. If you recognize them, you may be able to mitigate reputation issues:
BSH – Before the crisis (a.k.a. Before Stuff Happens): It’s the time to prepare. Monitor social media, designate resources, run simulations against your crisis plan. This improves response time and can keep bad from getting worse.
HBL – During the crisis (a.k.a. Hell Breaks Loose): This is the crux of the crisis maelstrom and best driven by calmness and speed. During HBL it’s essential to have a fully connected central war room to share information and to make critical decisions.
RRR – After the crisis (a.k.a. Reassess, Repair, Reputation): It’s the most important yet overlooked step in the process. Human nature makes us stand-down after a crisis. Like in battle, adrenaline is no longer flowing and we tend to get back to normality. This is the time to address the cause of the crisis and develop systems and procedures to prevent a reoccurrence.
And remember the words of a well known politician, “Drill, baby, drill.” Don’t leave crisis response to chance, drill to improve response and reaction time.