Mismanagement of Malaysian Airlines
Discuss about the Public Relation Theories and Issues for Malaysian Airlines.
The following report is going to chronicle the issues raised during the loss of MH370, when Malaysian Airlines reportedly misbehaved with the people who claimed the corpses of their close-mates and family members. Sudden disappearance of the Malaysian flight with 239 passengers on March 8, 2014 created a lot of chaos in the entire world pertaining to the where about of the flight. There was a constant search for the flight for next three years; however, the entire effort went in vain. Only few parts of the vehicle were found near the sea shore and the family members of the passengers were assured that the authority would provide them with positive news. Thus they were placed on a state of never ending duality of hope and hopelessness (Kim et al., 2014).
Post disappearance period of MH370 witnessed something uneven in terms of the company’s public relation. Mismanagement in the core authority level and false assurance from the company has made the matter even worse.
The report is going to elucidate the detailed account of the public relation failure of Malaysian Airlines and its mismanagement. It further relates the problem with one of the public relation theories and consequently, provides some recommendations so as to avoid hazard.
The basic problem with Malaysian Airlines was that they could not convey proper communication with the family members of the victims. This is how team deployed for the investigation completely denuded the entire matter. Since the basic trait of public relation is the conveyance of the communication, it nees to be ensured that the message is properly transmitted to the receiver from he sender. However, during the course of investigation, the authority could not judge the situation and they further proceeded to give false assurance to the family members of the victims. The mishandling situation from the management cost high as the claimers started venturing their voice against the corruption in the investigation. It was allegedly reported that the investigation team did not give their best while in search of the missing flight.
The entire investigation involved twenty six countries yet there was no solution. Robert Jensen’s statement regarding the failure of the search ignited the issue and worsened the matter. Another fault that the Malaysian Airlines authority made was not informing the media pertaining to the never ending wait of the family members (Analysis: Malaysia Airlines' mishandled response to the MH370 crisis, 2017). During the crisis of communication there was no strategy applied in order to ease the complexity that both the authority and the family members were undergoing. Even the search process was under certain criticism as both the Malaysian government and the airlines authority did not reveal the process to the people who were waiting with hope that they would receive their lost ones back. This led to widespread criticism from the global media. Chinese media did into step back attacking and ponting out the faults of the Malaysian Government. According to one of the spokespersons of Malaysian Airlines, the process of investigation was being carried out in-house. Though there was question pertaining to the validity of in-house investigation process, the authority did not respond to it sincerely.
Analysis of the Problems through PR Theories
Some veteran critics pointed out the certain faults of the Malaysian Airlines authority. These are:
- i) The authority did not deploy a senior spokesperson from the PR department while conveying the message the victims’ family members. Instead, there was a much junior level officer who was deployed for public interaction. Lack of experience and handling capability worsened the entire situation.
- ii) On the other hand, the company did not take assistance to handle public agitation and perplexities thus creating a communication crisis between the company and the public (Higgins, & Hodge, 2017).
However, after many days and months the airline decided to strategise new idea called the SMA blast that provided the customers with e-mail and phone number of the authorised working members who were handling this issue. The other dire mistake made by the Airline was the Facebook content where it was written about the missing of the flight. However, the search operation was conducted much after they had posted about the accident. Soon after reading the post, hundreds of the family members started gathering together and reached the Airline base office.
Therefore, it can be said that the basic problem with Malaysian Airlines while dealing with public relation was that the company lacked proper insight. There was no thoughtful management that could help ease the situation thus confirming te death of the missing passengers. There was no confirmation at all regarding the existence and survival of the missing passengers and the crew members. The company only held back the information from the people. The entire responsibility was shouldered upon the Malaysian government as well as the Malaysian Airlines. However, initially the government did not take stern action on the action plan.
The problem can be analysed through different PR theories. However, the most apt theory to connect with the problem is the theory of communication. Before understanding the concept of communication theory one needs to get a clear idea of the four model of PR management designed by Jim Grunig and Todd Hunt. These four models are ;
- i) The Press Agentry Model
- ii) The Public Information Model
iii) The Two Way Asymmetrical Model
- iv) The Two way Symmetrical Model (Grunig, 2013)
While analysing the case problem, the public information model can be used. This model deals with the truth and accuracy of the information proved by the authority whi provide required information about a problem or an issue (Grunig, 2014). This model was developed on the basis of growing industrial and public complexities in the 20th century. This process describes that the information proved must judge the ethical circumstance and work accordingly (McQuail & Windahl, 2015). The basic trait of this model is to provide transparent and truthful information about an incident so that the public or the people who are provided with the information can be made sure regarding the essence of a situation or a problem they are likely to face or they have already faced ("psu.edu", 2017).
The theory of communication was developed by Shannon and Weaver. However, this theory mostly covers tthe mathematical discourse of communication. According to Shannon and Weaver’s theory of communication, a message or information process constitutes a sender, a channel and a receiver. Proper understanding among these three components helps build a concrete communication that can be instrumented to resolve an issue. In the case problem there was no justification between the sender and the receiver of the communication process. Lack of proper channel disrupted the entire communication level. It thus caused a chaos among the participants of the communication (Guth & Marsh, 2016).
The issue of MH370 was no doubt a very complex one. The missing or the accident could not be controlled by the Malaysian Airlines authority. However, lack of proper communication worsened the matter. The authority might recover the complexity by the following process:
- i) the airlines authority should deploy a proper and veteran spokesperson who has the experience in dealing with the public.
- ii) The authority could take authentic assistance from a third party agency who could take up the responsibility of public relation
iii) There was a different investigation body that was in charge of the investigation. One of the spokespersons from the investigating agency could communicate with the people who were waiting for the missing family members. 0
From the above discussion, it can be concluded that the level of communication has to be strengthened while dealing with PR issues. If there is no proper communication management, the PR issues are not resolved and remain unchanged. Therefore, the authority must build a bridge to eradicate the gap between the company and the people.
Analysis: Malaysia Airlines' mishandled response to the MH370 crisis. (2017). Prweek.com. Retrieved 20 April 2017, from https://www.prweek.com/article/1286333/analysis-malaysia-airlines-mishandled-response-mh370-crisis
Grunig, J. E. (2013). Excellence in public relations and communication management. Routledge.
Grunig, J. E. (2014). Ethics problems and theories in public relations. Introduction. Communiquer. Revue de communication sociale et publique, (11), 1-14.
Guth, D. W., & Marsh, C. (2016). Public relations: A values-driven approach. Pearson.
Higgins, E., & Hodge, R. (2017). Families seethe at MH370 photo. Theaustralian.com.au. Retrieved 20 April 2017, from https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/aviation/mh370-families-seethe-over-shameful-malaysia-airlines-photo/news-story/0cdcfd4630f34b510c975b56823cedb8
Kim, S. Y., Choi, M. I., Reber, B. H., & Kim, D. (2014). Tracking public relations scholarship trends: Using semantic network analysis on PR Journals from 1975 to 2011. Public Relations Review, 40(1), 116-118.
McQuail, D., & Windahl, S. (2015). Communication models for the study of mass communications. Routledge.
psu.edu. (2017). psu.edu. Retrieved 20 April 2017, from https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.939.4419&rep=rep1&type=pdf
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