(image courtesy of Bloomberg)
Our hearts are broken for those who died on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on Thursday. The instant that air to ground missile hit the plane, hundreds of lives ended and families around the globe were plunged into despair.
Also spare a thought for Malaysian Airlines staff now forced to deal with another calamity. Company communicators may have just gotten over the heartbreak surrounding the disappearance of MH370. Now they must communicate through another tragedy. The pressure from world media for information will be enormous as these communicators struggle to come to terms with their personal loss of colleagues, possibly friends.
Communicating in a crisis is challenging, difficult and draining. When I headed up the Australian Army’s public affairs team, I had to deal with the deaths of three people in a two year period. One soldier died on operations and two others were killed in training accidents. I remember how demanding and upsetting those experiences were for all concerned, including the PR officers who had to manage the news.
But these circumstances, although distressing for the families involved, pale in comparison with the monumental task facing the Malaysian Airlines PR team who face two catastrophic events just months apart. Therefore spare a prayer for our fellow communicators in Kuala Lumpur confronting such a daunting challenge.