I wrote earlier in the week about three crisis lessons from the Costa Concordia disaster. This was all pretty simple stuff but actions which can make a difference in the short term which will protect the long term reputation of a company.
There is however something even more fundamental than the actions and words of a corporate spokesperson: have a crisis plan in place.
It is inconceivable that a company the size and complexity of Carnival, the owners of Costa Cruises, wouldn't have in place a crisis plan but unfortunately it is all to common an occurrence. Global PR firm Burson-Marsteller has subsequently been called in to offer support and will no doubt be charging substantially marked up 'crisis rates' when the perception of incompetence has already been well planted in most people's minds. The resilience of the cruise industry to ride out this tragedy will be interesting to watch as will the major cruise businesses communication strategies.
The lesson here for any business - but even more so if you are responsible for the safety of thousands of people - is have in place a crisis plan which includes well rehearsed communications protocols. It will save you money if a crisis does hit as well as your reputation, and maybe even your business.