After the grounding of Costa Concordia in January, two parallel phenomena appeared in the media coverage: emergence of the public relations “expert” who knows what Costa should have done and media outlets’ tendency to sensationalize any trivial thing related to the incident. This story, unfortunately, combines both.
Travel Weekly UK published a story headlined “Carnival chief defends handling of Concordia disaster.” The lede reads “The boss of Carnival Corporation, Micky Arison, has hit back at claims by a crisis management expert that the company handled the sinking of the Costa Concordia appallingly.” (emphasis added)
What sparked this “defense” was MediaHouse executive chairman Jack Irvine’s critique of Costa Cruises’ and Carnival Corporation’s response to the accident in a presentation to the Institute of Travel and Tourism conference in Barbados June 11:
“Where did they go wrong? Everywhere. Carnival chief executive Micky Arison was nowhere to be seen. It was very badly handled.
“They should have put up a spokesperson. They should have apologised. They should have got the trade bodies involved to say the industry is safe and well run. There will be a manual written on the Concordia on how not to handle a crisis.”
While a Carnival U.K. representative addressed the inaccuracies of Irvine’s comments, Arison’s response consisted only of this on Twitter: “I think @costacrociere’s fast recovery speaks for itself.”
Arison didn’t “defend” the crisis response and he certainly didn’t “hit back,” as Travel Weekly put it. Arison just suggested that if the crisis had indeed been handled as poorly as Irvine claimed, the Costa brand would have been irreparably damaged and rendered incapable of the recovery it has achieved.
Regarding Irvine’s critique, it is always easier to manage a crisis when it’s somebody else’s and when it’s not you getting the call from CNN at 2 a.m.
Lord, save us from hypercritical experts and hyperbolic editors.