In any field, failures and emergencies are possible, the consequences of which are catastrophic and need to be corrected. If the tragedy concerns people’s lives, then it should be treated in a particular way. This is because, in addition to trivial losses in the form of damage to company property, reputational losses, and any fines and compensation, we are talking about victims. This is a very tricky and sensitive topic that requires detailed consideration. We can analyze the communication theory applicable in such a situation by examining the scenario of World Wide Airlines Flight 979.
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Company’s Biggest Responsibility
It is about missing planes filled with passengers, which already emphasizes the main problem of this catastrophe – the potential human casualties. In such a situation, it is necessary to allocate and designate the company’s areas of responsibility to third parties, as this will help build a plan of action next (Maiorescu-Murphy, 2019). The following problems have arisen in the wake of the disaster: the company’s reputation has suffered in connection with the tragedy, aircraft have been lost and, most likely, destroyed, the total value of which is several million, the company’s liability to the families of the passengers of the aircraft, as well as its responsibility to the states whose representatives the passengers were (Bobocel, 2020). Let’s consider each problem one by one. The reputation of the company, the third-largest in the world in quantity and quality of flights, is not so dramatically damaged by a single disaster, even a serious one. The fact of the matter is that seniority serves as the basis here, which holds back the confidence of customers and shareholders (Bobocel, 2020). The total amount of revenues and financing will cover the cost of the aircraft in a reasonably short period, especially if firm considers the availability of reserve aircraft or the budget line provided in advance for such situations by the Finance Department.
An analysis of all the consequences reveals that the tremendous responsibility will lie with the families of the passengers of the missing flight. There are several reasons for this, the main ones being moral and humane. Any company that provides services to humans is responsible for the service and its consequences. This is a fundamental principle of the service industry and extends to the airline (Maiorescu-Murphy, 2019). But these are not the only reasons, and enterprises need to delve into the long-term perspective of this problem. Suppose the company ignores or improperly fulfills its responsibilities to the families of the victims and makes amends (Bobocel, 2020). In that case, it could face public condemnation, which in turn would lead to the termination of contracts with shareholders and a drop in revenues. In other words, all the problems are interconnected with the families in question.
While analyzing the actions towards the families, however, industry must be careful here. The company’s legal department must study the laws of each of the countries whose inhabitants were victims of the disaster, as well as understand the culture and social patterns of these states (Bobocel, 2020). For example, the worldview in India is different from that of conventional France. In certain countries, religion and religious attitudes to the institution of the family will prevail. These factors must be taken into account when apologizing. In the opposite case, it is possible to insult, which will lead to unpleasant consequences (Maiorescu-Murphy, 2019). Thus, monetary compensation and an official public apology are likely in a European country, but other methods must be used in a religious country.
Dialogue with Global Audience
The target audience of an airline is the general public, and this is very important. Apologizing only to influential persons, such as diplomats or Interpol representatives, will not be fruitful but will only damage the company’s reputation. This will happen because the company will appear in the eyes of the target customer as an indifferent organization that only cares about profits and the preservation of contracts (Maiorescu-Murphy, 2019). Thus, a dialogue with society is necessary. It is essential to understand that it should not consist of promises or excuses, as it will not help those affected, and those who are not will have doubts about the sincerity of the speakers. In such a situation, it is necessary to interact with the society in the form of, for example, listening to their suggestions and ideas for improving the service, opening a fund to help the victims, releasing a film or a program about what happened (Maiorescu-Murphy, 2019). This kind of approach will be effective because a person likes to feel important and appreciated psychologically. This will help reduce the level of potential aggression and resentment and close the issue of proper attention to the victims.
Types of Social Groups
Nevertheless, it should be considered that the audience with whom the dialogue should take place will be divided into three groups. The first group will have a direct financial interest in the situation, namely shareholders and investors. To communicate with this audience, they should prepare a detailed plan for compensation for economic losses and share a different method of action to restore the reputation and optimize the company’s operations after the accident. As for the second group, these are the suffering and grieving audiences (Johnson, 2020). The detailed interaction strategy with this audience has already been described above, but it is worth clarifying one factor (Johnson, 2020). Passengers are citizens of different strata of society and the degree of importance to the states. But the company cannot allow further treatment of tragedies in the families based on their financial or status positions. Therefore, the quality of dialogue and moral and material compensation must be at the same high level to not offend either the family of politicians and diplomats or the family of an ordinary person. Ignoring this approach will lead to condemnation from society and increase the level of aggression towards the company. Finally, the third group is the political field. It is essential to understand that the tragedy involves thirteen or more countries, and the very sight of the accident is above water, i.e., in neutral territories (Johnson, 2020). Dialogue with states must be structured in such a way as to make it clear that there is no hidden meaning, terrorist act, or manifestation of hostility in this situation. In other words, that the tragedy is not someone’s deliberate fault for provoking countries into specific actions.
Way to Create and Maintain Credibility
To build trust through a company’s actions and maintain credibility, several conditions must be met:
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- Actions must accompany any words. The company has enough resources to carry out all the necessary public works, which will contribute to society’s adaptation after what has happened.
- Consider the emotional intelligence of the public. This means that speakers on behalf of the company, for example, should carefully select the words and facts they will operate during the dialogue (Maiorescu-Murphy, 2019). Careless actions can cause an explosion of emotions, which will lead to severe consequences.
- As noted above, to interact with people. It should be a dialogue, not a monologue, i.e., listening to people and carrying out their will is vital.
Types of Channels to Contact People
Open conferences, personal letters to families, and the Internet are ways to make this dialogue as effective as possible. Available conferences will help people express their wishes and thoughts in a guaranteed way to be heard, all in public, so everyone understands how the problem-solving process is progressing (Ruler & Körver, 2019). The Internet is the primary source of news and information for the vast majority of society, surpassing television, so it would make sense to take advantage of cyberspace for greater awareness and speed of information dissemination. In addition, the Internet provides opportunities for comment and discussion, which, again, makes people complicit in the coverage and resolution of this mishap. Finally, personal letters would keep any data and aspects of the disaster confidential, only on the company’s and the victims’ agenda (Ruler & Körver, 2019). In addition, personal notes will show a particular indifferent attitude towards citizens and help build a more constructive dialogue.
In conclusion, it must be said that communicative theory must necessarily be detailed and compelling. It is essential to understand that the human factor complicates many aspects of possible difficulties and tragedies when it comes to people, but no one is immune from them. Consequently, companies whose activities involve risks must be prepared to deal with actual problems with society, no matter how difficult these situations may be. It is building such a theory that helps a company stay on the right track, controlling all aspects of the issue that has arisen, and being competently responsible to all parties to a disaster.
Bobocel, S. (2020). Key success and competitive factors of digital communication strategies. Analyzed through the lens of strategic choice and determinism. CRIN Verlag.
Johnson, E. (2020). Finding comfort during hard times. A guide to healing after disaster, violence, and other community trauma. Rowman & Littefield Publishers.
Maiorescu-Murphy, R. D., (2019). Corporate diversity communication strategy. An insight into American MNCs’ online communities and social media engagement. Springer International Publishing.
Ruler, B., Körver, F. (2019). The Communication Strategy Handbook. Peter Lang.