Christian Cull, Communications Director, TUI UK and Ireland


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Private sector PR challenges in 2010

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  • INTERACTIVE – ASK THE AUDIENCE WHY COMMUNICATE IN A CRISIS? During a crisis situation a brand’s reputation is at risk….. Think about how you felt about BP before the oil spill and compare it to how you feel after the oil spill. By communicating you show you are in control, in a crisis situation if you don’t take control someone else will…..that someone else could be media commentators, MPs, industry experts who may get the facts wrong! If you don’t maintain trust you are in a lot of trouble….as a drinks manufacturer no one will buy your drinks if they fear contamination, equally as an airline no one will fly on your aircraft if they don’t believe it is safe!
  • Even though there are more channels, we are consuming even more news as individuals with the growth in 24/7 reporting…..
  • We live in a world driven by 24hour communications – whether tv, radio, twitter, facebook and old fashioned word of mouth Our customers expect good communication to be at the heart of any customer-focussed organisation. Our challenge during the crisis was to keep all stakeholders up to speed in a rapidly changing environment, whether that be: customers due to travel Friends and families of those stranded overseas Staff and colleagues Media Government and other key stakeholders, be they tourist boards, suppliers, investors… The list is endless, and they all require timely, relevant information.
  • So how did we do it? Unlike our competitors, we didn’t just sit back and deal with the situation reactively. There is a school of thought that you shouldn’t link your brand with a crisis. Indeed last week, the new head of PR for Virgin Holidays admitted their strategy was to deal with the negative and avoid drawing attention to themselves. But for me, when the crisis allows you to show the strength of your business, it is a massive opportunity. We knew there would be some backlash, cases where we got it wrong, and needed to ensure the positive outweighed the negative (in fact the negative issues raised have to date been minimal as we have already heard) We also knew we needed to balance the requirements of the business with demands of the media and sometime putting yourselves in the front line, does force you to go public with you plans earlier than you might otherwise have to. It also means that any mistakes you make will also be more public. Once you engage with the media, they will report on you, good and bad.
  • INTERACTIVE - ASK THE AUDIENCE WHAT DO YOU THINK WERE OUR KEY MESSAGES? A good company will stand out in a crisis and we had a fantastic opportunity to highlight our sector and show the world the benefits of the package holiday. I’d like to show you a short video highlighting just a few of the messages that came across through the media, either via news reports or via our spokespeople.
  • Digital Touchpoints Web Dashboard Centrally updated, one page news screen that has latest information and a ticker listing all the channels where updates are available (Twitter, Facebook, Web, email, SMS, Retail, Resort). Used to post all aggregated news from official sources and unofficial sources once verified. Listening Increase listening activity and response capability during the crisis. Anecdotal reports can be verified with resort staff and published directly to people via the web dashboard and advise of all channels where information is available Email Resort guests can opt in to email updates, both general and specific to their resort so they have an idea of when departure is likely SMS Resort guests can opt in to SMS updates, both general and specific to their resort so they have an idea of when departure is likely Facebook Tui Facebook page to post links to the live web dashboard when updates are posted, and used to answer (where possible) travel related questions Blogs Resort and head office staff use flip film footage and their personal experiences to blog about their personal story of how they helped during the crisis Video storytelling Resort and head office staff use flip film footage to document their personal experiences of how they helped during the crisis External PR Use all the online, personal stories as proof points for retail sales and broadcast media to report on and contact any willing guests direct to check their experiences Internal PR Promote the success of the response internally to reinforce the brand values, create pride and internal advocacy Twitter Use to reply to people and to direct to web dashboard and also post links to all updates YouTube Publish video blogs and diaries of the response and customer experience showing the transparency and benefits of booking with Tui Physical Touchpoints Resort notice boards Used to direct guests to all the different channels where they can get the latest information and updates (not for posting updates) Resort Representatives Increase the amount of face to face contact with guests. Gather film footage of the in resort response Resort Reception Use a LCD / Plasma screen to show the web dashboard for instant information and updates so staff are can focus on individual attention Flip Camera content Head office and resort staff capture the response so the content can be used in blogs post event Head Office team Document individual guest experiences while they are onsite assisting Retail Stores Show web dashboard in store for friends / relatives. Blogs / videos remain as proof points for customers who are considering future bookings that may be at risk
  • Just a word on online. Our websites were a lifeline for many of our customers and thanks to the online team for their support in updating them At one point, updates were being loaded to the web site every 2 hours - even throughout the night As you can see the pages were utilised by our customers and we have received many positive responses about the information available.
  • Hudson plane crash: Twitter users broke the news of the incident around 15 minutes before the mainstream media alerted viewers and readers to the crash. The first recorded tweet about the crash came from Jim Hanrahan, aka Manolantern, four minutes after the plane went down, who wrote: "I just watched a plane crash into the hudson riv [sic] in manhattan".
  • Staying with the web - the use of social media is absolutely key in a crisis! You can see on the slide some sample ‘tweets’ Twitter is a valuable source of information into the business – it gives you real-time feedback about where we are getting it right and sometimes wrong It give us an opportunity to contact those customers who are being negative and try to win them over. It is also a way of communicating with customers – both those due to travel and those overseas – for example, we found the site was vital in communicating with flight-only customers, some of whom were not in our care, but with whom we needed to stay in regular contact.
  • The growth of media online, also allows us to track public response to stories in the media and it appears, the public don’t always believe what they read in the papers! This is an example of how, when we do it right, the general public will stand up for us, even if customers complain This customer spoke to her local paper to complain they were not given refreshments on their coach journey across Europe (despite being warned there wouldn’t be any!) There were lots of responses to this story on the papers’ website and other than one person (clearly a friend of those involved) everyone was supportive of us.
  • During the crisis we appeared on all the main news channels countless times, as well as programmes as diverse as Newsnight and regional radio phone-in programmes. Action: hand-out PR Week coverage.
  • Christian Cull, Communications Director, TUI UK and Ireland

    1. 1. Learning from 2010 and understanding threats in 2011 Christian Cull, Communications Director, TUI UK & Ireland Private sector PR challenges in 2010
    2. 2. <ul><li>TUI UK & Ireland – Key Facts </li></ul><ul><li>5.4m customers </li></ul><ul><li>62 aircraft </li></ul><ul><li>100 destinations </li></ul><ul><li>More than 870 shops </li></ul><ul><li>16,000 colleagues </li></ul><ul><li>Differentiated product </li></ul><ul><li>First Choice & Thomson </li></ul>
    3. 3. PR Team Head of PR PR Manager Airline, SD, Industry Affairs PR Manager Tour Operating PR Assistant PR Officer Senior PR Officer Senior PR Officer PR Officer Senior PR Officer Senior PR Officer
    4. 4. Welcome to the world of travel! <ul><li>Watchdog (twice) </li></ul><ul><li>Snow on the runway </li></ul><ul><li>Madeira floods </li></ul><ul><li>Volcanic ash (twice) </li></ul><ul><li>Group actions </li></ul><ul><li>Share price plunge </li></ul><ul><li>Snow on the runway (again) </li></ul><ul><li>Strikes in Spain </li></ul><ul><li>Shark attacks on Sharm </li></ul><ul><li>Tunisia </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt </li></ul>
    5. 5. Who’s this? Andy Sharman from Leicester Topped Google rankings for “ Thomson Tunisia review So we asked him to come in… 10,000+   September 2009 “ “ Rant Blog”
    6. 6. Why communicate in a crisis? <ul><li>Protect your reputation </li></ul><ul><li>Keep control of the agenda </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain trust in your company </li></ul>
    7. 7. The power of the media <ul><li>BBC online is the second most visited site in </li></ul><ul><li>Europe with 14 million people visiting every day </li></ul><ul><li>70% of UK adults get news from the BBC everyday </li></ul><ul><li>If BBC decides at 8am to broadcast something, </li></ul><ul><li>by 8:35am 19 million people will have seen it either </li></ul><ul><li>on TV, radio or online </li></ul>
    8. 8. “ Ash-gate” <ul><li>Wednesday 14 April </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1000 hrs – the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland erupted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NATS monitored the situation all afternoon </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thomson was made aware late afternoon/early evening </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2100 hrs - the Crisis Team is activated - Alert State Yellow declared </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1200 hrs - potential closure of GLA, MAN and NCL </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thursday programme at risk (specifically Cruise) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Thursday 15 April </li></ul><ul><ul><li>0300 hrs – Alert State Orange declared </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>UK airspace closing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Despite this, Thomson managed to operate around 18 flights outbound </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Friday 16 April </li></ul><ul><ul><li>UK airspace nearly completely closed – but Thomson managed to get </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4 aircraft back home – the only airline to do so! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>0730 hrs – Alert State Red activated </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. 28 Aircraft stranded Spain Egypt Portugal Arrecife – 6 Sharm el Sheik – 5 Boa Viste – 1 Tenerife – 1 Hurghada – 1 Faro – 1 Alicante – 1 Greece India Germany Paphos – 1 Goa – 1 Hamburg – 1 Heraklion – 1 USA Barbados Greensboro – 1 Bridgetown – 1
    10. 10. Customers stranded <ul><li>Thursday 14th 8,400 </li></ul><ul><li>Friday 15th 11,800 </li></ul><ul><li>Saturday 16th 7,200 (Ski flights operated by road) </li></ul><ul><li>Sunday 17th 10,100 </li></ul><ul><li>Monday 18th 8,400 </li></ul><ul><li>Tuesday 19th 11,100 </li></ul><ul><li>Wednesday 20th 8,200 </li></ul><ul><li>Total circa 65,200 </li></ul>
    11. 11. So, what did we do? <ul><li>The Crisis Centre managed overall co-ordination and repatriation </li></ul><ul><li>All areas of the business were involved in decision making: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Airline – Customer – Distribution – Comms – Commercial – </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cruise – HR – Legal - Group </li></ul></ul><ul><li>BALPA and UNITE support maximum flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>The Ops team was involved in regular calls with NATS to try and open airspace </li></ul><ul><li>The Flight Ops team convened a meeting with CAA and all UK airlines </li></ul><ul><li>The Engineering team co-ordinated with CAA/UK airlines and manufacturers </li></ul>
    12. 12. CRISIS MANAGEMENT CENTRE Control, Command, Coordination, Communication CRISIS DIRECTOR CRISIS CONTROLLER COMMS CMC ADMIN CONTINGENCY PLANNING Airline & UKI Boards 24H OPERATIONS CENTRE Flight Operations Crewing Customer Operations Significant Operational Disruption Plan INCIDENT RESPONSE MGR Inflight Product Airports Aviation Planning Cabin Crew Mgmt Pilot Mgmt Technical Ops Cruise Change Control After Travel Customer Support Engineering Legal Regulatory Liaison Holiday Line Commercial Internal Comms Facilities Finance HR IT Website Team External Comms Overseas Retail Pre Travel Customer Support = Crisis Support Unit Flight Safety Go Team
    13. 13. Ash crisis – our objectives <ul><li>Use the media as an efficient method of communicating with our customers, and their friends and family back home </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure all the hard work undertaken across the </li></ul><ul><li>business was recognised by customers and potential customers, to generate positive awareness and feelings about TUI Travel </li></ul><ul><li>Drive awareness of the benefits of the package </li></ul><ul><li>holiday and why it is still relevant in today's </li></ul><ul><li>fragmented marketplace </li></ul>
    14. 14. How did we deliver these objectives? <ul><li>Relevant updates displayed on our web sites and </li></ul><ul><li>issued to media </li></ul><ul><li>Swift, efficient and effective responses to media requests </li></ul><ul><li>Proactive selling-in of key stories as they arose </li></ul><ul><li>Arranging easy access to several competent spokespeople </li></ul><ul><li>and briefing them where relevant </li></ul><ul><li>Advising the business on the impact of their decisions </li></ul><ul><li>on the reputation of the business </li></ul><ul><li>Seizing opportunities to correct any misleading media </li></ul><ul><li>reports and to fill information gaps as they arose </li></ul><ul><li>Managing responses to the few cases where we got it </li></ul><ul><li>wrong! </li></ul><ul><li>… . 24 hours a day! </li></ul>Thomson Airways huge rescue package is complete - 70,000 customers brought home
    15. 15. Our messages… <ul><li>We are a caring company </li></ul><ul><li>We excel in customer service </li></ul><ul><li>We provide accommodation for customers overseas during the disruption, free of charge </li></ul><ul><li>We are the UK’s leading tour operator </li></ul><ul><li>We are providing repatriation via alternative means </li></ul><ul><li>of transport to get customers home asap (ferries, </li></ul><ul><li>cruises and coaches) </li></ul><ul><li>Customers are in safe hands with tour operators </li></ul><ul><li>who take complete responsibility when something </li></ul><ul><li>goes wrong (unlike low-cost airlines) </li></ul>
    16. 16. Touchpoint Map Physical Environment During Crisis Post Crisis Blogs YouTube Twitter Web Dashboard Listening SMS Blogs Facebook Resort notice boards Resort Representatives Flip Cameras content Video storytelling Internal PR External PR Retail Stores Email TUI Crisis Management Centre Resort Reception Head Office teams Video Twitter Digital Environment
    17. 17. Online Comms was vital <ul><li>“ I just wanted to say…. Thomson's website, informing customer of the situation, has been excellent.  Any time I have wanted an up-date I have received very clear guidance as to the situation at that time.  As a result of such clear reporting, it has made the situation more tolerable. Many thanks to those responsible.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kathy Edwards (Customer) </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Twitter in a crisis <ul><li>Hudson River plane crash, Jan 09 </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter users broke the news of the </li></ul><ul><li>emergency landing around 15 minutes </li></ul><ul><li>before the mainstream media </li></ul><ul><li>First Tweet four minutes after crash </li></ul><ul><li>Picture (right) taken and uploaded </li></ul><ul><li>with mobile phone ten minutes after </li></ul><ul><li>takeoff </li></ul><ul><li>Tweets documented the incident </li></ul><ul><li>and reassured friends and families </li></ul>
    19. 19. <ul><li>During crises, we direct people to our </li></ul><ul><li>website for updates, and we use </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter and Facebook to direct people </li></ul><ul><li>there </li></ul><ul><li>Valuable source of information into </li></ul><ul><li>business </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity to put problems right </li></ul><ul><li>Way of communicating with customers </li></ul><ul><li>overseas </li></ul>Social Media
    20. 20. Things that make me go yuk <ul><li>Dynamic Markets research: </li></ul><ul><li>3/4 (+) of in house communications professionals say they expect agency staff to be more knowledgeable than they are on new media </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shame on you, in house comms professionals! </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Key PR Skills <ul><li>Writing </li></ul><ul><li>Selling – In </li></ul><ul><li>Thinking </li></ul><ul><li>Media </li></ul><ul><li>Networking – social or otherwise </li></ul>
    22. 22. Things that make me go yuk <ul><li>Dynamic Markets research: </li></ul><ul><li>3/4 (+) of in house communications professionals say they expect agency staff to be more knowledgeable than they are on new media </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shame on you, in house comms professionals! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ targeting (influential bloggers and commentators) through social media can be a powerful way of gaining credibility” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>have a conversation with them: they are people, not targets </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Who is this? Marshal McLuhan “ The medium is the message” Yes, if it’s a light bulb But no… It’s the message, message, message 
    24. 24. Total alert page views – 902,457 Volcanic Ash Crisis Wednesday 14 th – Wednesday 21 st April 2010 Peak day/time – Wednesday 21 st April at 10am, approx. 11,000 views in the hour .   Date Page Views Unique Visitors Weds 14 th April 88 65 Thurs 15 th April 20,081 9,823 Fri 16 th April 83,297 36,677 Sat 17 th April 91,048 46,012 Sun 18 th April 102,080 57,299 Mon 19 th April 162,918 75,565 Tues 20 th April 198,356 83,067 Weds 21 st April 244,589 77,995
    25. 25. The customer isn’t always right... <ul><ul><li>“ Personally I think Thomson’s should be applauded for </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>their response to a very difficult situation there are </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>thousands out there that would have liked the same level of care.” </li></ul></ul>“ A FURIOUS Weymouth mother has demanded an apology from her holiday company after her daughter fell ill on a 48-hour coach journey from southern Spain to France. Angela Smart and her daughter Courtney, eight, had to return to Britain on coaches and a ferry after flights were grounded during the volcanic ash crisis. Mrs Smart said holiday company Thomson failed to provide her and her daughter with water during their two-day coach journey. Little Courtney became dehydrated and fell ill during the trip……..” <ul><ul><li>“ Yawn! Another sob story that does nothing more than </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>demonstrate what a spineless bunch of moaners this country is so rapidly becoming... Did the rep not clean your teeth, wipe your bum, tell you bed time stories.....diddums!” </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. How did we do? <ul><li>More than 1,000 pieces of editorial coverage (print, online and broadcast) </li></ul><ul><li>The value of this coverage alone in excess of </li></ul><ul><li>£9million in terms of advertising equivalent </li></ul><ul><li>Almost 3 hours worth of broadcast coverage </li></ul><ul><li>More than 40 interviews with our spokespeople </li></ul><ul><li>22% of all press/broadcast pieces were strongly favourable, compared with 14% for Thomas Cook. </li></ul><ul><li>49% of coverage conveyed a key message. </li></ul><ul><li>Winner of the PRCA Crisis Management Award 2010 </li></ul>
    27. 27. Travel Alert was on the website from Wednesday 1 st December. From this time until Sunday 5 th December, the page received 136,078 views.  1 st December 2010 Gatwick Snow Crisis   Date Page Views Unique Visitors Weds 1 st December 31,096 7,974 Thurs 2 nd December 45,688 11,594 Fri 3 rd December 23,171 9,140 Sat 4 th December 23,652 9,766 Sun 5 th December 12,471 6,421
    28. 28. 1 December 2010 Gatwick Snow Crisis
    29. 29. Tunisia Alert Total page views for the alert during Friday 14 th – Monday 17 th January 67,767   Date Page Views Unique Visitors Friday 14 th January 21,381 17,368  Saturday 15 th January 17,299 13,063  Sunday 16 th January 14,650 12,476  Monday 17 th January 13,173  10,395 
    30. 30. Why communicate in a crisis?
    31. 31. Egypt <ul><li>Destination by destination </li></ul><ul><li>Cairo </li></ul><ul><li>Luxor and Aswan </li></ul><ul><li>Calm in Sharm </li></ul><ul><li>Foreign and Commonwealth </li></ul><ul><li>Office </li></ul><ul><li>Sound on the ground </li></ul>
    32. 32. Priorities <ul><li>Identify the opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>Get moving immediately </li></ul><ul><li>Get on the front foot </li></ul><ul><li>Update, regularly and often </li></ul><ul><li>Track key influencers </li></ul>
    33. 33. Thank you - Any Questions?