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Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Carol Ann Hackley

First Committee Member

Qingwen Dong

Second Committee Member

Alan Ray

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine Royal Caribbean's crisis communications response following the return of their cruise ships to Labadee, Haiti, soon after the Januaty 12, 20 I 0 earthquake. A case study method was used to evaluate both sides of the situation and Royal Caribbean's crisis communications response is evaluated against a target standard of five benchmarks. The first benchmark requires recognizing that a crisis has occurred. The second benchmark involved having an immediate response, by getting the story out first, even if all the facts are not yet available. The third benchmark conveyed the importance of directly communicating with key stakeholders. The fourth benchmark, an all-time favorite, reiterates the importance of telling the truth, bad and good, and keeping it consistent. The fifth benchmark focuses on companies putting people first and conveying a genuine concern for those affected.

This study begins with an introduction of concerned parties, locations and issues. The crisis situation presented is the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred on January 12, 2010 in Haiti. It continues with a discussion of the communication crisis that resulted from Royal Caribbean's decision to continue cruise trips to its port of Labadee on Haiti, following the disastrous earthquake's widespread devastation. Praise and criticism for Royal Caribbean was equally considered, as was the cruise line's crisis management, specifically its series of crisis communications and their short and long-term implications.

In conclusion, analysis suggested that Royal Caribbean underutilized crisis communication techniques. It is essential that a company have a swift response and communicate to the public what is being done to make sure that a crisis is handled effectively.

Pages

133

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