I just received a truly bizarre crisis enquiry.

Is it just me, or is this an extremely strange way for an airline to go about preparing for potential disasters?

I know one airline I should avoid in future … (names removed to save their embarrassment): 


Good morning. I’m xxx, a Senior Public Relations Officer at an airline.  I need your expert advice.

We have a scenario where our airline, in transit from xxx to xxx, looses [sic] a passenger and while re-routing back to xxx, amid the confusion, the plane crashes. What do we do?

I await your advice. Thanks

xxx


Dear xxx – thanks for getting in touch.

Has this event just happened and you need urgent advice? Or are you preparing for this scenario as part of a crisis planning exercise? And which airline do you work for?

Please give further details and I’ll see what we can do to help.

Best wishes

Tariq Khwaja


I’m preparing for such a scenario and I need your advice. What should we do?

I work for xxx Air.

xxxx


Dear xxx

This certainly sounds like the kind of crisis preparation we can help you with.  You may have seen information about our crisis services on our web site here.

I think you’re saying you want to undertake crisis preparations so you’re ready in case a disaster should strike your airline?

You mention one particular scenario.  Are you just looking at this one, or do you need to prepare for a whole range of potential crises?

Do you have a fixed idea about the way in which you’d like us to deliver advice and support to you?  We can deliver crisis preparation and training sessions of various formats or support with specific situations.

And what budget do you have for this?

If you can let me know more on these basic points, then we can talk further to agree how to deliver the support you’re after.

Regards

Tariq


Good morning.

You just aren’t addressing my question.


xxx, I’m puzzled by this. Your question was ‘what should I do?’ in a specific crisis scenario, of which you’ve given only a sketchy outline.

The scenario you mention is serious and complex – potentially involving mass casualties/deaths. I’ve been trying to identify a format in which we could work with you to prepare properly for such a situation.

What kind of response were you expecting from me?

Tariq


I just want to know, if you were asked in a casual chat, what we should do in the scenario we outlined? 

Thanks

xxx


xxx, in a casual chat, I’d say you would immediately deploy your crisis team and execute your carefully prepared, well-rehearsed crisis plan to get the situation under control, deal with everyone concerned and manage the reputational fall-out as effectively as possible.

But the details of that plan cannot be invented in ‘a casual chat’ or on the back of an envelope. It’s too complex and serious a matter and it would be negligent of me to try to address it in that way. It needs proper consideration.

It would be like emailing a doctor saying you have a severe head pain and asking what surgery you should have, without even being examined.

This is not the right way to work and I’m afraid we cannot help you.

Tariq


 

For any more professional enquiries about how to prepare for or handle a disaster, please see our crisis communications services.  Or see our other crisis communications blog posts.