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Carnival’s SOS

None of us can imagine what it would be like to be lost at sea for 28 days, to watch your friends die of thirst and exposure, to float hundreds of miles across the Pacific from your home port of Panama. Maybe, maybe if only for a brief instant we can allow ourselves to feel a sliver of that helplessness and despair, we can also imagine the sheer joy and hope that would come from seeing a cruise ship on the horizon. But instead of altering course toward you, it fades into the distance… 

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People, People Who Need People

I once had a coach who told our team, “everything would be much easier if you were all a bunch of rowing robots.” His implication was that not only would every stroke be programmed to be perfect—you would also avoid those pesky problems that come from dealing with people. You know, like anaerobic threshold and needing to drink water and having psychotic breaks….

The core truth at the heart of communications problems, both in business and in life, is that the vast majority of them originate from people. Some problems arise from knowing wrongdoing, some from stupidity; and sometimes shit just happens.

The inverse of this core truth is that just as problems arise from our peopleness, so too do solutions. We are judged not only on the problem itself, but oftentimes more so on how the people involved react to it. When we maintain our peopleness and address problems from a transparent, people-centric perspective, we foster a partnership with our stakeholders that makes them a part of a people-centric solution. Communications that takes on a rote, mechanical tone creates a barrier between your company and your constituents that prevents them from playing a role in the dealing & healing process.   

By all accounts the crew—and passengers—on yesterday’s JetBlue Flight 191 reacted quickly, appropriately and effectively when the pilot appeared to have some sort of psychotic episode. And, through the Flight 191 Updates on JetBlue’s blog, the company is using a very people-based model in addressing customers questions, offering them a chance to comment and making them feel like they’re “in the know” about the situation and how it’s resolved. They’re also doing a great job of offering information in a timely manner without rushing to provide details of the story until all of the facts have been brought to light.

It will be interesting to see how things progress as the investigation proceeds, and whether or not JetBlue will be able to maintain this tone throughout.

Filed under crisis comm strategery