Experts Share Communications Advice in Wake of Malaysia Airlines Incident

The story of the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft is all over the news. Theories and speculations are everywhere and very few factual details have been found.

In the midst of all the confusion, crisis communications experts have found ways to turn the incident into a teaching tool for the dos and don’ts of communication during such an event.

According to an article by the National Post, both the Malaysian government and Malaysia Airlines “have arguably given a masterclass in how not to deal with the aftermath of an incident.”

From long wait-times for information to sparse details to officials publicly contradicting each other, the communication efforts in this case have left a lot to be desired.

It took five hours just for the airline to come out and say they had indeed lost contact with the airplane when this all began. Since then, information has been patchy and one official, the Malaysian defense minister, even changed his story from one day to the next.

According to the article, the Malaysian government’s inexperience with disasters could be the reason for the poor management of information and communication.

“It is one of these countries that doesn’t have earthquakes, doesn’t have tsunamis — it hasn’t been tested with a disaster like this,” said Ernest Bower to the National Post. Bower is the senior advisor for Southeast Asia studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think-tank.

However, despite all the criticism floating around, there are some positive points that crisis communications experts have noticed.

According to the article, experts praised Malaysia Airlines for using the “Dark Site” – which is “a dormant website that is stripped of all promotion materials and designed to provide information and updates about the incident.” The “Dark Site” is stored offline and is only activated when necessary.

Experts also noted how important the “Triple Rs” of crisis communications are. Regret, reason and remedy are key when apologizing or communicating a failure.

 

For more information, see the National Post article here: http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/03/17/in-malaysia-airlines-mh370-aftermath-officials-provided-masterclass-in-crisis-mismanagement/