PR Time

Saturday, February 27, 2010

As a public relations graduate, it always grabs my attention when there is a crisis in the headlines. Not in an "oh goodie, crisis!" kind of way, but an "oh that wasn't good to do"  or "Oh that was so good!" It gives me a chance to use what I learned in college and critique it in my own way. 

I am by no means a seasoned professional on crisis management but I get the basics. Never say no comment, check all your facts and always keep the public up to date.

The company grabbing headlines this week is SeaWorld. Unfortunately, a trainer's life was taken when a killer whale  grabbed the woman by her ponytail and pulled her into the tank where she eventually drowned. Click here for the full story.

I can only imagine what the family is going through at this moment and of course all thoughts and prayers go out to them.

Now let's talk PR.

We want to examine the steps that SeaWorld has taken thus far. A statement was made by Dan Brown, president of the Orlando park within hours of the incident. Good. Some of the remarks made in that statement, not so good.

It was said [SeaWorld] had "never experienced an incident like this" in any location but it is soon found that this is untrue. The same whale, Tilly, was involved in another death in 1999 at the same Orlando park. Maybe it was a different circumstance but to say never when in fact is has happened before is not good. The media hears a word such as never and they automatically have fact checkers looking for anything that can contradict this. And in this case it is very true that SeaWorld statement was in fact wrong.

On the other hand, it was good that they comforted the public so to speak. Ensured that the park's priority was their employee, guest and animal's safety. Also, explaining that procedures are being investigated and steps are being taken to ensure that a tragedy such as this doesn't happen again. The public wants to be comforted and say "OK they are taking this seriously."

Social media is very present in this PR campaign and in crisis management. The same day as the incident, SeaWorld's Twitter had updated its status with a statement expressing condolences. Shortly after there was a link provided to a message from Jim Atchison, President of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Since social media is very important in connecting to the public immediately, I think SeaWorld was really on top of it. They continue to be present on their Twitter page with many updates and responding individually to people that are commenting. 

Overall, SeaWorld has been doing very well with their crisis management during this time. Everything that is found out is reported to the public. The CEO made a statement today that the whale shows will continue tomorrow but with many limitations until the full investigation is finished. This was a huge question for everyone listening and watching and patrons of the park. SeaWorld also treads lightly when asked if protocol was broken or if safety standards aren't met, which is good. They have no conrete answers yet so they answer saying that. The response has been along the lines of, we can't confirm or deny that until the investigation is finished and all facts are checked. 

As the days continue SeaWorld will hopefully continue keeping up with the public and be informative of what is happening. But in PR the first 48 hours are the most crucial and I believe that this company truly did a well job. Their crisis management was responsive and exactly what is needed to keep this company on top. There were some minor flaws but collectively, job well done.

I must mention in my closing that SeaWorld and Dawn Brancheu's family has set up a memorial fun, in honor of Dawn and will be used for children's charities that Dawn was active in. As of right now, donations can be sent here 

Dawn Brancheau Memorial Fund
c/o U.S. Bank
P.O. Box 809231
Chicago, IL 60680-9231

-Be grateful for whatever comes because each has been sent as a guide from beyond-

No comments:

Post a Comment

CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan