What message, how to communicate, when to communicate with passengers?
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The case study under analysis uncovers the situation with the Sensation cruise ship that had to change its schedule because of the damage to the engine’s propulsion system. In order to keep the passengers happy and loyal to the company, it is necessary to develop a formal communication plan.
The key objective for this communication is to reassure passengers and provide them with comprehensible information about the cause of the itinerary change. The audience already knows that there is something wrong with the engine as they heard strong vibrations. Moreover, they contacted their family and friends to share anxiety that worsens the situation. Therefore, passengers want to know the truth about vessels and the solution to the incident. Moreover, they must be want to receive the information about the potential compensation, damage to the company’s reputation, and punishment for responsible persons.
It seems that the best spokesperson to deliver this message is the CEO of the Spree Cruise Lines as the accident causes the company’s bad image. At the same time, the captain, the cruise director, and supervisors of the financial department and public department might be helpful assistants.
First of all, it is very important to apologize for the inconvenience. After that, the CEO should clearly explain to the passengers the whole situation in detail and answer possible questions. The CEO should be persuasive and polite. To motivate them to accept the message, it is significant to speak respectively and comprehensibly. Besides, the information concerning compensation should also be mentioned. The paramount task of the CEO is to persuade passengers that the decision is right and ensure the safe continuation of the cruise. The Communication Strategy Framework including the purpose, messages, media/forum, audiences, feedback, timing, and communicator might be rather useful in persuading the audience. It counts for all the necessary elements to deliver bad news communication. According to Barrett (2011), “the general rule for professional communication, however, is that our purpose for writing or speaking usually comes first” (p. 43). It means that the spokesman needs to identify the essence of the message and immediately deliver it to passengers. After that, the CEO should support the message by imposing arguments. What is more, passengers’ feedbacks, as well as claims, should be taken into account and addressed in a timely manner. The passengers should feel that Spree Cruise Lines want to keep them as future customers. The company might offer discounts for future cruises or excursions along with other services. The above formal communication plan is expected to contribute to the successful resolution of the accident.
What message, how to communicate, when to communicate with media?
It also seems necessary to point out that the communication strategy with media is important. Local media might impact the reputation of the company. However, there is no need for a special message nationwide.
In this connection, the principal purpose of this communication is to inform the media with appropriate and truthful information concerning the incident. Besides, the company should react to any inquiries as soon as possible. Departmental and corporate objectives of the company are to decrease the potential negative impact to a minimum. Therefore, Spree Cruise Lines should offer comprehensive information to the media, so that they could report the news to customers in a neutral way. The personal objective of the crew and the cruise director, in particular, is to ensure the media that the information provided is credible.
Media already possesses the information received from Facebook and Twitter that “it sounds like the dual engine props aren’t synchronized” (The Case Study Spree Cruise Lines, n.d., p. 2). Perhaps, they want to know the cause of the damage and its costs as well as the amount of passengers’ compensation. Media also might be interested in the solution of the accident and measures to prevent the same situations in the future. Maintaining the credibility of media would promote the loyalty of passengers and secure the image of Spree Cruise Lines. Consequently, the company should contact the media before it gains information from outside sources that might be negative. The contact with media should be conducted as soon as possible without any procrastination.
As for the spokesperson, the CEO of the company along with the cruise director should develop a communication plan that would pay attention to all the integral parts of the situation. The wording for the communication prepared in advance might be the best way to achieve the desired outcome. The conversation with the media should be concise, elaborated, and respectful so that they feel the responsibility as well as the awareness of the company to secure customers and the reputation.
Speaking of the channel of communication, “It is important to consider an audience’s expectations for communication based on the medium through which they receive that communication” (Barrett, 2011, p. 41). The most relevant channels to communicate with the media are phone calls to local journalists and press releases. Moreover, it seems appropriate to initiate a hotline phone number for relatives and media to receive supplementary information. In addition, the Internet café on the board of the vessel could be one more channel of communication with media.
Barrett, D. J. (2011). Leadership communication (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
The Case Study Spree Cruise Lines. (n.d.). DOCX file. The Case study Spree Cruise Lines.docx.