Expert debates shipping crises and social media
Speaking at the third Maritime and Casualty Response Conference in London on Wednesday 5 September, Robert Minton-Taylor, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business & Law at Leeds Met, will advise that the biggest challenge for managing crises in shipping was that ideas from seemingly unimportant sources can spread rapidly via social media.
Mr Minton-Taylor will discuss how passengers on board the Costa Concordia texted friends and relatives ashore alerting them to the fact that the vessel had grounded and was listing well before the ship's owners were aware of the true extent of the disaster.
He will urge maritime operators to be open and honest in their dialogue with the media because the truth will always come out. "Carnival was left high and dry when the public posted YouTube videos showing a Costa vessel hitting a harbour pier in Sicily and one sailing too close for comfort to the Italian coastline. Credibility in crisis communications is crucial," he comments.
He also advises that asking a lawyer what you can and cannot say in a crisis could actually do more harm than good. He cites the case of the English football captain who was granted a super-injunction to stop newspapers reporting details of his alleged affair with a woman. "When the judge overturned the ruling a week later, the media, who were initially prevented from reporting the case, went for the jugular," says Mr Minton-Taylor. "Transparency in communications is always the best policy," he maintains.
In his speech, he will state that managing crises demands substance and not spin and that best practice is for companies to demonstrate the 'five Cs' - concern for the incident, clarity of communication, control of the situation, confidence in managing the incident and competence in resolving it.