MH370 disaster, Malaysia flight, Kuala Lumpur
On 8th March 2014, the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared within 1 hour of takeoff while en route from the Malaysian city of Kuala Lumpur to the Chinese city of Beijing. The airplane, a Boeing 777 registration number 9M-MRO, was carrying 239 persons from 14 different countries, of which there were 227 passengers and 12 crewmembers. Of major concern was the fact that the aircraft deviated from its set flight path, no distress call was received from it, there were no reports of bad weather, and there were no reports of aircraft equipment malfunction. The airline only reported the flight missing six hours after the fact and one hour after the plane was supposed to have landed in Beijing City. Despite countless hours and millions of dollars spent while searching for the airplane, there has been not confirmed sighting of the plane or even its debris. The search areas have covered large tracts of the Indian Ocean, Andaman Sea, Gulf of Thailand, South Pacific and the South China Sea (CNN 2014; The guardian 2014).
Close to three months since the crisis began, Flight MH370 remains missing, and the crisis management team has not communicated any convincing explanations as to what could have caused the crisis.
[...] These are clear indications that the crisis management team failed in their duties. They good a number of issues right but failed in most. Some of the issues they got right include: access, they created an emergency site that was regularly updated to provide information on the search progress. The site was in both Chinese and English showing a sensitivity to family members and the general public: consistency, all the media channels used, including the social media sites, carried the same information: and tone, all promotional and marketing activities were suspended as the crisis progressed (Pownall 2014). [...]
[...] Pownall (2014) succinctly summarizes these points by stating that every establishment's reputation is at the mercy of aggrieved parties and that they must tend their communications constantly to ensure that their reputation is not damaged, a point that Malaysian Airlines crisis management team clearly failed to consider. References CNN 2014, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, viewed 4 June 2014, McCarthy, B Lessons in Crisis Communications, KENYON International Emergency Services, London. [...]
[...] The second failure of the crisis management team was speed as they were communicating after the information had appeared in other media like social-media, print media and broadcast media channels (The guardian 2014). Social media sites were only updated one hour after the first official statement on the plane's disappearance had been issued offline, with the trend continuing as the crisis progressed (Pownall 2014). Good communication would involve informing the relevant persons as soon as information is received. The public was only informed of the flight's disappearance six hours after its last communication and one hour after its scheduled arrival in Beijing City. [...]
[...] The crisis management team excuse that they needed to verify the information first did not hold any weight as they could always make corrections to the released information after it had been verified. While the importance of being the first to break news has been ascertained, pure speculation is discouraged, as they are more damaging than being late with information (Turner 2014). The third failure was not using the communication tools at their disposal. In the present age of globalization where almost everyone has access to the internet, the crisis management team used the internet to inform the public, but failed to control commentary. [...]
[...] The crisis management team made overtures to prevent lawsuits against Malaysian Airlines by putting the hosting family members in hotels and facilitating their travel to the information release sites (Turner 2014). Even as a crisis unfolds, plaintiffs' lawyers are already conducting discoveries, filing lawsuits and exploiting family members' grief to strengthen their cases. The fifth failure was the communication content. Though a lot of information was provided in offline press releases, the online communications clearly lacked in content. Audio recording, videos and maps that were availed in offline press releases were not availed in online platforms (Pownall 2014). [...]
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