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Malaysia Airlines on communication breakfast radar

Malaysia Airlines on communication breakfast radar

Reputational damage to Malaysia Airlines in the wake of its handling of the missing flight MH370 comes under the scrutiny of journalists and communication
specialists at a breakfast workshop in Auckland tomorrow.

School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing senior lecturer Dr Chris Galloway, who specialises in researching organisational reputation, management
and crisis, is among guest speakers at the breakfast organised by Wright Communications.

New Zealand Herald journalist Lincoln Tan, who covered the story of the missing airliner from Malaysia, will also be among speakers at the event, which Dr Galloway says emphasises the importance of reputation and crisis management- particularly with unprecedented challenges like the enormity of the scale of the search for the plane.

“You don’t have to be an airline to consider how handling a crisis in your industry sector could involve multiple internal and external parties and how you’d handle that.”

A key focus of Dr Galloway’s presentation addressing the confusion that surrounded Malaysia Airlines’ communication response will be to convey the importance of circulating timely information to concerned parties including media and families of the missing.

“Every crisis is a crisis of information,” he says.

“Decisions need to be made with incomplete data. An incomplete picture is not a reason to not act.”

His presentation compares and contrasts Malaysia Airlines with how competitors have communicated to affected parties in the aftermath of their own crisis.

“Malaysia Airlines is a very good airline but key messages and brand values were lost in the midst of confusing and contradictory statements.”

Dr Galloway’s talk will also address cultural differences that exacerbated tensions between the airline, media and family and friends of the missing passengers.

“Western people believe it is the speaker’s responsibility to communicate clearly. Eastern people see that it is up to the speaker to understand what is being said,” Dr Galloway says.

Judging by responses by Malaysia’s human resources minister the Government was trying to take on board some of the lessons from its communication of the airliner disappearance, he says.

“Learn how to show empathy to victims and families. Learn how to handle the requests of the media who hunger for answers,” the Minister said as the search for the missing plane continues.

Managing director of Wright Communications, Nikki Wright, who organised Tuesday’s workshop, said it promises to highlight some essential necessities of the communications sector and shortcomings in the airline’s response to this incident.

“We must continually strive to improve trust between our client or organisation and its stakeholders and unfortunately in this case there were multiple shortcomings resulting ultimately in erosion of trust and reputation damage as we will learn on Tuesday.”


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