Firms might face numerous types of latent crisis circumstances such as workplace explosions, violence, and breakdowns in communication. A crisis is any incident that initiates the level of civic interest and media probe that needs a significant upsurge in resources and staffing to establish a reasonable media reaction. Organizations can manage these crises through communication, which is the most substantial factor of internal and external conveyance of information. Communication is a continuing procedure that allows businesses to observe their surroundings before and during a crisis, to comprehend and react appropriately, create a constant clarification, and resolve the disaster and regenerate order. The main element of crisis communication depends on the response of an organization after the crisis hits referred to as a crisis statement. Also, organizations use crisis communication strategies as a response statement after a crisis develops. According to An et al. (2011), these response communications repair the reputation and minimize negative impacts. An organization’s image serves to recognize the firm for the public and to direct their reactions to a disaster. The strategy decision must be constant with the kind of damage established by the crisis. Crisis response strategies include distance, non-existence, mortification, suffering, and ingratiation. Thus, this paper discusses the different approaches used by airports and airlines to communicate with conventional and social media when a crisis develops.
The airlines and airports use non-existence strategies in an attempt to eliminate the crisis. The policy exists to defend the organization to illustrate there is no connection between the firm and the catastrophe. There are four non-existence approaches denial, attack, clarification, and intimidation (An et al., 2011). When a firm uses refutation, they conclude that nothing substantial occurred hence no disaster. Interpretation recognizes with the denial reaction but comprises the explanation and why there exists no crisis. The third approach is attacking, which provokes the parties who erroneously stated that the nonexistent catastrophe existed. Intimidation is very hostile and deploys the threat of the airport firm against the party or person. The airlines and airports could use physical violence and lawsuits as methods of intimidation. Also, the crisis reaction should be informative, open, quick, sympathetic, and consistent. An immediate response signifies control when the firm effectively manages the crisis. According to An et al. (2011), management to emergencies also denotes credibility. For instance, in 2008, British Airways Boeing 77 experienced a crash; however, the crisis management team immediately made a holding report to the media (Grundy & Moxon, 2013). They highlighted the particular flight details, and the information provided was consistent, accurate, and timely. Firms should speak with one voice to impose constancy of the reaction. Speaking with one voice refers to the coordination of the determinations of the speaker and discouraging other company members from becoming unauthorized representatives. Consistency assists in developing the reliability of the initial response, therefore, becoming credible.
Moreover, airports and airlines use distance strategy during a crisis. The distance strategy admits the crisis and attempts to enhance public awareness. The organizations also try to diminish their connection to the crisis. There are two distance approaches, which include justification and excuse. Validation comprises reducing the damage related to the crisis. The firm attempts to communicate that the crisis is not severe (An et al., 2011). Airports use this strategy to validate the existence of an emergency and show that the outcomes were not as comprehensive as expected, and thus there was a misconception. For instance, the airline may try to persuade the public that the delay of a flight was not that serious as anticipated. Excuse includes diminishing the firm accountability for the crisis. Some tactics associated with the excuse approach include denial of intention and volition. Denial of purpose refers to disproving that there was any aim in the activity. Besides, denial of volition may consist of scapegoating. It is a condition where an airline or airport may decide to fault on another person or party for the crisis that happened.
Airport and airlines use the ingratiation strategy to communicate about a crisis with the media. It attempts to decide a public endorsement for the firm. Federal approval is acknowledged by connecting the airline to positive features such as contributions, charities, and fair work treatment. There are three facets to the ingratiation approach, which include praising others, transcendence, and bolstering (An et al., 2011). Transcendence attempts to recognize the crisis in a more appropriate light in a way that the public consents. For instance, British Airways during the crash tried to decrease offensiveness by using a reduction tactic and outlining the event in a positive light (Grundy & Moxon, 2013). Bolstering aspect pursues to establish a positive relationship between the public and the organization by displaying support from the firm for its shareholders. British Airways, during the crisis, worked from a press record which they constantly restructured with new data. They also utilized bolstering to enhance the training on preventing the accident from occurring in the future (Grundy & Moxon, 2013). The bolstering approach mainly highlights the firm’s right actions by reminding the shareholders why they became part of the organization, which could assist in alleviating the crisis. Besides, praising the public strategy help in gaining approval from the target group of the airplane firm. The praise helps to engage the targeted group in developing the interest of the airline organizations.
Another strategy is the mortification, in which an airline tries to win public forgiveness and create approval for the crisis. There are three mortification approaches, which include rectification, repentance, and remediation (An et al., 2011). Repentance entails requesting forgiveness. The adverse features should be minimized as the public admits the confession and forgives the firm. Remediation provides reimbursement or assistance for the victims. Also, rectification includes preparing for performance to avert a reoccurrence of the crisis. For instance, On 2007 February 14, at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), a winter ice storm trapped more than 130,000 travelers on the runway for hours (Billiter et al., n.d). However, JetBlue thought the ice storm would change to rain; thus, they continued to board individuals onto planes, causing a lot of delay to the passengers. According to Billiter et al. (n.d), CEO Neeleman publicly apologized to the affected passengers who experienced diversions, suspensions, and the week’s cancellations; hence the firm used the repentance strategy. Besides, JetBlue displayed a reimbursement approach for the victims by providing different compensation levels for the week’s events, such as a full refund and a free round-trip flight voucher. Later on, JetBlue practiced rectification by establishing a database that would monitor the contact information and location of the affected flight crews (Billiter et al., n.d). In this case, airports and airlines use this approach by apologizing to the public and seeking further actions to prevent other disasters from occurring.
Additionally, airports use the suffering approach to build sympathy from the public by creating a positive view. Suffering shows the airline or airport organizations as a biased victim of some wicked, outside unit. The purpose of suffering as a secondary approach is to reinforce the emotion of sympathy to influence the stakeholder’s behavioral intentions (An et al., 2011). Expressing compassion and sympathy produce the image of a credible and trustworthy firm. Once the firm portrays comfort, it does not necessarily mean the organization accepts the accountability for the condition. The stakeholders require instant information after crisis identification regarding the occurrence and the influence of the disaster.
In conclusion, a crisis affects various organizations across the world. The airline and airport use the crisis response strategy to protect the reputation and of the organization and future relations with stakeholders. The crisis response report gives insights into the crisis and the airline organization. The suffering, distance, and non-existence strategies all try to influence acknowledgments publics to make regarding the organization accountable for the crisis. Ingratiation and mortification strategies recognize the positive impression of the firm. Thus, with conventional and social media, airlines and airports have the opportunity to rebuild trust and goodwill to its customers.
An, S. K., Gower, K. K., & Cho, S. H. (2011). Level of crisis responsibility and crisis response strategies of the media. Journal of Communication Management. Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 70-83. https://doi.org/10.1108/13632541111105268
Billiter, L., Koyl, A., Mellor, T., Nogaki, A., and Sanchez, S. (n.d). Crisis communication plan, p.36. https://pressfolios-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/story/story_pdf/80607/806071400003445.pdf
Grundy, M., & Moxon, R. (2013). The effectiveness of airline crisis management on brand protection: A case study of British Airways. Journal of Air Transport Management, 28, 55-61. http://hadjarian.com/brand/1-s2.0-S0969699712001640-main.pdf
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