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February 1, 2012
Cruising Isn't a Carnival
 
We don't know all that the cruise industry and Carnival Cruise Lines, in particular, ought to be doing in response to the shipwreck tragedy of the Costa Concordia on the coast of Tuscany. But it seems that a broader, deeper perspective than "working through all the possible scenarios it (the cruise industry) will face going forward" is in order. The shipwreck disaster points up that public relations is, first of all, a management discipline before it's a set of response measures.

The above, well-intended quote is from a Travel Weekly post by Steve Dunne, executive chairman of the Brighter Group, a travel PR and marketing agency in London. But it doesn't seem to reach far enough into the training and procedures that allowed a cruise ship captain to bring his vessel too close to shore. Having all the spokespeople possible available during "the golden hour" — "when the story breaks and all and sundry speculate" — isn't going to counter horrendously irresponsible circumstances.

Cruising needs to have less of a revel image and, evidently in the case of the Costa Concordia, reality. A cruise needs to be less of a carnival and more of a setting of dependably responsible seamanship. That's more than public relations after the fact can accomplish; it needs to be a management discipline predating the day a multi-decked cruise ship is launched.   

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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