Nairobi Airport fire - Crises Management 2.0 Case Study and Analysis #Jkia #JKIAfire

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On August 7, 2013, in the early hours of the morning, Nairobi's international airport terminal was engulfed in a major fire. This is a case study of blow-by-blow accounts of the incident online, from Tweets and Facebook updates coming from passengers, airlines airport and government authorities.

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Nairobi Airport fire - Crises Management 2.0 Case Study and Analysis #Jkia #JKIAfire

  1. 1. We Believe in Thinking Differently about Aviation Marketing Crises Management 2.0 JKIA Fire – Nairobi Airport Shuts Down Case study & Analysis Find us on: Twitter Facebook Linkedin
  2. 2. Stage 1: The news breaks
  3. 3. As we have seen in previous crises the first tweet often comes from a tech savvy passenger that happened to be in the area when the crisis starts. In this case it was a mobile and web developer that tweeted at 5:03 local time just 28 min after the fire broke out. Fire + 28 min : Tech savvy passenger tweets
  4. 4. The first tweets on the topic from those on site were confusing. Surprise/panic was evident both in the language used and in the typos, likely caused by a combination stress and fast typing. Early tweets are confusing
  5. 5. Twitter was already seeing intense traffic on the #JKIA airport topic due to a jet fuel shortage that took place the day before causing massive cancellation and delays. 20 minutes after the initial tweet and 48 min after the fire had started a sudden change in the #JKIA topic took place and all tweets focused on the fire. Fire +48 min: Conversation switch 5:18 local time
  6. 6. Within minutes, the locals started seeking more information. It is important to note that at this stage the conversation was not yet global, and still focused on clarifying the facts. Users ask for information
  7. 7. At 5:23 am the first tweet directed at the airport appears, showing what seems to be a first hand account from person who was inside the airport. Fire + 52 min: first tweet directed at the airport
  8. 8. Due to the large amount of false rumors that spread daily on the internet it is fairly common to see users asking for images of the events both out of curiosity and as a way to verify the veracity of the news . In this case the first request appeared in the 30 min following the first tweet. At this stage many still considered the news as a rumor. Fire +55 min: request for pictures
  9. 9. At 5:31 local time a passenger on one of the planes parked in front of the terminal starts tweeting after seeing the fire. His Twitter stream soon turns into a live account of the events in conversation with other users outside the airport. Fire +56 min tweets from inside a plane
  10. 10. Whenever a tweeting passenger is stuck on a plane during an emergency situation it is very common for them to become one of the most active users. This is due to a combination of a lack of information being provided inside the plane, their inability to move to a safer location, the stress/uncertainty derived from the situation itself and of course having plenty of time with nothing else to do but look at the scene outside and tweet. The “stuck-in-the-plane” phenomenon
  11. 11. Just over an hour after the event the first tweet from the Red Cross confirms the fire, from that moment onwards their Twitter handle will become one of the main sources of reliable information on the issue. Fire +67 min: Red Cross Responds
  12. 12. Just 13 minutes after users started asking for images one is tweeted by a Danish citizen who was in the area. Official confirmation of the event reached Twitter just a minute later dispelling doubts about the reliability of the reports. Fire +68 min: First image
  13. 13. In an unexpected move for such a crisis, the Interior Ministry of Kenya tweets out the news and mentions local news channels. This Twitter handle was extremely proactive throughout the crisis providing updates, asking others to share the news and reaching out to the media, something not often seen in official government related accounts. Fire + 69 min: Interior ministry tweets
  14. 14. Five minutes after the confirmation from the interior ministry and after the initial confusion on the news has settled the first event-based #tag starts being used. It will become the second most used tag in this crisis, following the generic #JKIA airport tag. Fire + 74 min: #JKIAfire
  15. 15. It is important to note that the #JKIAfire tag was not a newly created tag, but had previously been used on two separate occasions in June 2012 and February 2013 to report other fire- related issues at the airport. The Phoenix tag
  16. 16. At 6:01 about 1.5h after it started the airport authority finally confirms the fire on Twitter. The news quickly spreads with over 100 re-tweets . Fire + 86 min: Airport confirms fire
  17. 17. The first airline to respond to this crisis was Kenya Airways that replied to a user’s request for information just two minutes after the airport had officially confirmed the fire on Twitter. Further updates from the airline soon followed. Fire + 88 min: The first airline responds
  18. 18. Despite constant mentions by hundreds of users and even a direct mention by the interior ministry, local media did not start working on the news until well over 1.5 hours from the event. Slow reaction by local media
  19. 19. At 6:16 local time a reporter and anchor for local news station KTN Kenya appears to have been the first professional journalist to have reported the event. Her tweet was shared by KTN’s Twitter handle. Fire + 101 min: Reporter tweets
  20. 20. Stage 2: Spread focus on the events
  21. 21. After 1.5 hours from the time the fire started, and about 1h from the time of the first Tweet, the news had been confirmed and had reached mainstream media. From this point on, we could see a shift of the attention from an attempt to verify and understand what had happened, to a more event-focused tweeting aimed at communicating the details of the fire and update on the developing situation (the terminal was still burning at this stage). In the meantime, the news kept spreading and gradually reached other more users who often went through a short version of Stage 1, attempting to verify the news and sharing it with others. Shift in Focus
  22. 22. The news slowly reached mainstream local media, and eventually made its way to international media. Local channel NTV Kenya tweeted the news at 6:45 local time and at 7:10 local time the news reached the BBC. Mainstream media and global spread
  23. 23. Many people and companies started using Twitter to express their feelings and wishes while others tried to help by asking people to stay off the roads and allow emergency vehicles to do their job. This is another common feature of large scale crises like this one. Well wishers and helpers
  24. 24. Such was the volume of tweets (several thousands per hour) that the tags #JKIA and JKIAfire soon became one of the most used on Twitter, tending worldwide and in the region. Trending
  25. 25. Once they had started reporting on the news, media outlets quickly turned to social media to gather information and first hand accounts. A local TV station used Twitter and the #JKIA tag to ask users for images. A Twitter user who was in the cockpit of one of the planes stranded by the fire promptly replied and his image was widely shared by other users. Media seeks details
  26. 26. One of the local news channels appears to have scheduled tweets about the fuel shortage that took place the day before the fire at JKIA and forgot to remove them once the fire had started. The result was a constant series of tweets about fuel shortages appearing while the airport was burning, something that angered many Twitter users. Scheduled Tweets
  27. 27. Stage 3: Analysis and conspiracy theories
  28. 28. As more details of the event emerged, users looked for answers and tried to understand the cause of the fire. In most cases these were genuine, although amateurish, attempts to find the truth, but often degenerated into a wide range of speculations and conspiracy theories. Looking for answers
  29. 29. Sabotage, terrorism are typically among the first theories to surface as users look for individuals to blame for the event. Recent events, like in this case the closure of duty free shops at the airport, are often immediately linked to the events. Sabotage, terrorism and conspiracy theories
  30. 30. For crises that involve a national symbol or a government run facility like JKIA, political debate is never far behind and often surfaces at an early stage. In this crisis the debate centered on the presence of senior politicians on site and on the management of the airport, with occasional references and jokes on how foreign media were reporting the story. Politics
  31. 31. Another frequently seen source of debate following these incidents are suggestions of a supernatural explanation usually connected to religion or personal beliefs. In JKIA’s crisis, as in most others, the discussion was limited but it is worth mentioning since in some cases it can flare up heated debates. Supernatural theories
  32. 32. Unfortunately bad taste has no borders, jokers are an almost guaranteed feature of any crisis. These people tend to become active in stage 3 after the details of the news have emerged and to focus on stereotypes linked to race, religion, politics and other sensitive or controversial topics. Jokers and Trolls
  33. 33. Airlines and customer service
  34. 34. Twitter proved once again to be “the” place to go for up-to-minute news and information and many passengers that had to travel on the day of the crisis naturally turned to the platform to seek information about their flights. After the initial delays, both authorities and airlines started providing a constant feed of information through Twitter and used it as one of their main communication channels. The customer information highway
  35. 35. The two key elements in managing crises like this one from an airline perspective are simple: reply to users asking for information and proactively share any update available. As we have seen earlier, Kenya Airways was the first one to reply and other airlines in the region quickly followed. Keeping people informed
  36. 36. Given the high stress levels of people who fear to have their flight cancelled, it is extremely important to manage expectations. One way to do it is to provide estimates as to when future updates will be provided. Explaining what steps are being taken to assist users is also very important to help maintain lower stress levels and be seen as a proactive brand. Managing expectations
  37. 37. Given the instant nature of social media people tend to expect immediate replies to all of their queries. If it is not possible to provide a response it is very important to be open about the reason why the information cannot be provided at that time. Be open and honest
  38. 38. A very good way to build trust with users is to add information on the crisis from third parties, like government agencies and news channels. Passenger affected will be constantly looking for information and sharing available updates from third parties will reinforce the image of the brand as proactive and helpful. Add information from other sources
  39. 39. One surprising element of this crisis was seeing how local airlines seemed to outperform major international carriers in the management of this crisis. Although this can partially be explained by the higher relevance of the crisis for their operations it was also clear that local airlines were less afraid of addressing the concerns directly and seldom re-directed users to other websites and call centers. Local airlines do it better
  40. 40. Air Uganda especially surprised us when it went as far as sharing images of the fire taken by their local team in Nairobi. Other local airlines also shared images sent by users or news channels. Images
  41. 41. Although the initial delay of over 1.5 hours in confirming the fire seems hard to justify, the overall handling of the social media response by the airport was good. Its constant updates also earned it the praise from several grateful Twitter users. Kenya Airports
  42. 42. Several airlines also extended their efforts on Facebook to make sure customers stayed informed and all questions were answered. Kenya Airways stood out for delivering 10 updates, one every hour, to keep its followers updated on the situation. The updates stopped when all domestic flights could resume. Facebook
  43. 43. Conclusions
  44. 44. As expected we saw a marked dominance of Twitter as the social network during a crisis. This is due to its instant nature and strong mobile focus which make it ideal to spread short messages very quickly. We saw a peak in tweets while the fire was still burning and we now expect to see a marked decline in the number of tweets as the crisis winds down. Prevalence of Twitter
  45. 45. The way authorities used social media, and especially Twitter to spread their message has been perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of this crisis, to some extent they seemed to be far ahead of their European and American counterparts. Throughout the crisis we have seen a constant stream of tweets coming from the interior ministry, crisis management centers and airport authorities as well as other organizations such as the Red Cross Usage by authorities
  46. 46. By analyzing the Tweets being sent using the #JKIA tag we could also observe how user’s interest and focus changed over time. The first tag-cloud was generated using Tweetarchivist on the day of the event and shows a prevalence of news related tags like #JKIAfire and #Nairobi. The second one, taken a day later with the same tool, shows a stronger presence of operation related tags like “resume” and “flights” that suggest a change in the conversation from a fire-related one to a operational one. Trends
  47. 47. Another item that stood out while analyzing the tweets was their source. Mobile based applications dominated scene, a sign of the platform’s “instant” nature. Usage from mobile devices
  48. 48. Thanks to the recent introduction of hashtags to Facebook we saw a more structured and immediate conversation taking place on this social network. However the type of messages being shared, with the exception of those shared via Twitter, remained quite different. We saw a marked dominance of stage 2 and stage 3 content discussing the news, sharing media links and offering possible explanations. Facebook hashtags
  49. 49. How to prepare for the next crises?
  50. 50. Download full infographic here
  51. 51. Download full infographic here
  52. 52. 1. Top 10 aviation crises management case studies 2. Aviation Crises Management infographic 3. Royal Brunei Airlines emergency landing case study 4. Over 50 of SimpliFlying’s crises management updates and articles 5. SimpliFlying in-house Crises Management MasterClass More crises management resources….
  53. 53. SimpliFlying has worked with over 35 airlines and airports globally on customer engagement strategy. If you’re keen to ensure that your crises management strategy remains relevant, get in touch to learn more about our consulting and training services.

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