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Leading crisis communications from the sky: the aviation perspective

By Megan Kenna | Jun 4, 2019

Mitigating, managing, and minimizing risk – both operational and reputational – is critical in aviation. So on behalf of our longtime client, the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), Mach Media’s Managing Partner, Taunya Renson-Martin, recently moderated a panel on Crisis Communications during the high-profile European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2019).

EBACE is a premier event for the global business aviation community. Held in Geneva, it hosts thousands of business aviation professionals, public officials and other VIP guests. Joining Taunya on the crisis communications panel were Luciano Luffarelli, head of external communications and public affairs for Piaggio Aerospace; Marc Cornelius founder and managing director, 8020 Communications; Frederique Luca, senior manager of communications for EBAA; and Dan Hubbard, senior vice president of communications of the National Business Aviation Association. Together they shared best practices for crisis preparedness and implementation, to include defining a crisis, identifying a crisis comms team, anticipating scenarios, drafting messages, setting up communication channels, acting quickly and taking ownership.

As Taunya emphasized, “During a crisis, your brand is on fire and you have to extinguish it. The role of crisis communications is to prevent further escalation and to gain trust back from your internal and external stakeholders.”

Determining the difference between an “issue” and a “crisis”, however, can be hard, especially when, according to Dan Hubbard, “every crisis is different. Seemingly manageable aircraft incidents could become crises, especially if they involve well-known people.”

It’s important to act fast, as with speed you can fill information gaps and quell potential rumors. “Something has happened, and the media and third parties immediately want to know what. And you generally do not have all the information they want,” said Luciano Luffarelli. That said, it’s important to communicate what you do know and your plan for attaining and sharing more information as it becomes available.

Finally, it’s important to remember that any crisis is about people first. Empathy is crucial. “Show that you’re listening and that you care,” said Frederique Luca, senior manager of communications for EBAA. “People … will never forget how you made them feel.”

It’s absolutely necessary for every business in any industry to have a robust crisis communication plan. Read Mach Media’s advice on how to prepare your crisis communication plan here.

Need help defining a corporate communication plan? We can help!