Three months have passed, I still follow up with the news and comments on the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370. The last news on May 29th was ‘US Navy official confirming that the four ‘pings’ at the centre of the search for MH370 did not come from the doomed airliner’s black box’. It means that the works of searching for MH370 from April 5th till now are futile actions.
Now, we have to rethink the entire event processing and the roles of MAS, the government and social media.
- The examination of Malaysia Airlines and the government
The incident of MH370 does not only influence the image of MAS, but also damaged the reputation of the Malaysian government and its international relationships, especially with China. The crisis management consists of two aspects, the truth behind the incident and indemnifying measure. On one hand, the reason for the missing plane is yet to be determined and MAS itself has no definite messages, Ketchum could just quickly and directly expose all the unified information that MAS has. On the other hand, MAS has inescapable responsibility in the accident; hence it should provide a reasonable compensation to the passengers’ families. Notably, Qantas’s crisis management afforded lessons for MAS in its incident MH370.
In the strategy of indemnity measure in the Chinese market, MAS could communicate the message in which its compensation is higher than other local aviation companies. It could also use social media to hype the different standards of compensation and increase the publics’ attention of the range of compensation standards. The highest reference compensation standard would be regard as a sincere apology. With the help of the Malaysian government, MAS would be able to pay the compensation to the bereaved families. For the last part of the strategy, MAS could take advantage of social media to spread the news of MAS’s compensation that is higher than international standards. It should avoid and minimise the risks of online message communication. In this way, the attitude of publics would change; they will think the relatives get the reasonable compensation at last; however the position of the relatives would not change. Before the implementing the compensation, Ketchum would measure its effectiveness through advance survey and interview.
- The examination of social media
In the MH370 incident, social media has globally communicated massive information and challenged the position of traditional media. With BirdSong counting at least 20 different paged on Facebook with the key words “missing Malaysia Airlines”, one in particular has close to 400,000 “likes”. However, with the advent of social media, users could be a journalist and transmit both negative and positive messages of organisations. On account of the uncertain and incomplete news, social media makes a stormy sea stormier for the rumours and brings a negative tendency. Therefore, to decrease the spread of false information, social media should focus on increasing the responsibility awareness of fact checking.
From a purely PR perspective, how an organisation responds to crisis would reflect its management power and sustainable management capability. It consists as an enormous challenge for all aviation companies to face unpredicted accident of weather and emergency. In short, every organisation should create a crisis management plan for incident preparations.