Crisis Management

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Applying PR in Crisis Management - 2010 Manila hostage crisis

Crisis, which public relations counselor James Lukaszewski once described as “unplanned visibility” can strike anyone at any time. As no sector of society is immune from this “unplanned visibility”, it is a need for attempting to “manage” crises. By thinking logically and responding thoughtfully and quickly in a crisis, like how Hong Thai Travel Service Ltd reacted to the Manila hostage crisis, can possibly solidify a positive reputation and build up an immense goodwill for an organization.

The 2010 Manila hostage crisis occurred on August 23, 2010, in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines. Like everyone in Hong Kong, the company did not have sufficient information of the crisis. Differ from other hijack cases, all television channels in Hong Kong broadcast devoted significant coverage to the hijacking, and its aftermath. Wall-to-wall live coverage made it the single incident with the most live television news coverage in Hong Kong. It greatly increased outside scrutiny, the media wanted response and customers must know what was going on. In this case, we could see how Hong Thai reacted intelligently and promptly in the crisis.

Once receiving the news from the tour guide, Masa Tse, Hong Thai took a prompt action to it. This hijack case last 10 hours long by starting at around 10 am, after obtaining the phone call, the company convened an internal conference and formed a specific crisis management team in no time. On the other hand, they informed the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong and Tourism commission at once. Through the Tourism commission sending notification to Security Bureau. Surely, there was nothing for it but to form a team to handle this. Yet, as activating the support from other objective party with credentials could help in the case, the company took this step immediately. It is apparent that the company was being highly prepared and acted appropriately when crisis came over. Accordingly, the key to crisis management is being prepared, without a quick and comprehensive plan, it is inadequate to handle a crisis like this like what Hong Thai did.

The first step to be taken when recognizing potential crisis is gather as much information about the situation as you can. For this case, the company also did their best to collect much more information from the hijacking. They tried to contact the family members of the coach member, get in touch with outside areas reception travel agency by assigning task for them to store up real time condition. Nevertheless, the most admirable step that taken by the company was establishing an onsite presence. Not only this can collect more information in that area, it also showed corporate concern from the company. I believe Hong Thai Travel has already implemented a exhaustive search for information as they could since the result could be seen when they were communicating with publics.

“A crisis is a major occurrence with a potentially negative outcome affecting the organization, company, or industry, as well as its publics, products, services, or good name.” Once the issue or imminent conflict reaches a critical level of impact on the organization, the public relations professional must react to events in the external communication environment as they unfold. Hong Thai kept positioning the organization for the time when the crisis was occurring. The spokesperson, Susanna Lau, the General Manager of Hong Thai Travel Ltd, concentrated on communicating the steps that the organization would take to deal with the crisis. We could see the company quickly focus on what they were doing rather than what went wrong. In any crisis, a communications point person should be pointed and a support team established and it was all done by the company after the crisis happened 2 hours later.

According to Fraser, there are 5 planning issues paramount in a crisis. In the Manila hostage...
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