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Ardent Leisure Chief Executive ‘appeared to be ducking for cover’ following Dreamworld fatalities

Ardent Leisure Chief Executive ‘appeared to be ducking for cover’ following Dreamworld fatalities
April 4, 2017

Ardent Leisure made significant mistakes in how it handled its media management at the time of the death of four Dreamworld guests last October according to a crisis communications expert.

Speaking at last week’s Mumbrella’s CommsCon, Robyn Sefiani, Managing Director and founder at Sefiani Communications Group, said the fatal Dreamworld accident was an example of how not to manage a crisis.

As reported by Mumbrella, Sefiani stated “there are a number of reasons that I would make that observation.

“One of the complicating factors around the way the company handled the crisis was they started off with the CEO of Dreamworld fronting the media within an hour or an hour-and-a-half of the incident happening, and then two days later we found out that there was actually a CEO of a parent company Ardent Leisure who appeared to be ducking for cover.

“What happened with the Dreamworld crisis communications was it really spun out of control, whereas if you have a single person who is acting swiftly, authentically, openly and honestly, because what do we as public want to know?

“We want to know why did the accident happen, four people died that afternoon, how did it happen? Where did it happen? What is the company doing about it and can we be assured that it won’t happen again?

“The size of the crisis actually escalated because of that complication.”

Nicole McKechnie, Director of External and Corporate Communications at Telstra, suggested that the handling of media in the aftermath of the Dreamworld fatalities demonstrated the importance of command and control.

McKechnie stated “command and control is critical in times of crisis.”

Stephen Von Muenster, Principal of DVM Law, agreed with Mckenchie saying companies need to be able to respond to crisis with a “general, with a strong enough personality to be able to deal with internal stakeholders”, adding “the second the smoke goes up you need to be nimble and flexible, you need a plan,”

Ava Lawler, Managing Director of Weber Shandwick, said the key role for that general or spokesperson is to collect and articulate appropriate information.

Addressing the conference, Lawler added “spokespeople do play an important role.

“The key thing is really making sure you’re collecting enough information up front and really being in control of that information and using it to create messaging and understanding what needs to be communicated to who, and then training that spokesperson very vehemently.

“An organisation that is prepared well for a crisis can identify the best spokesperson and nine times out of 10 that would and should be the CEO, and will make sure they are well prepped for any potential crisis that may come through so they are ready to face the press with the compassion and concern for all of those involved, communicating accurately and clearly.”

Lawler cautioned that when using social media to communicate with the press or the public during times of crisis, organisations should be careful with their levels of engagement.

Launched in December 2008, Mumbrella is a dedicated news, opinion and discussion website covering Australia’s media and marketing industry.

It also organises a range of industry events including Mumbrella’s CommsCon, the Mumbrella Travel Marketing Summit and the Mumbrella Sports Marketing Summit.

The 2017 Mumbrella Travel Marketing Summit is being staged in Sydney tomorrow (5th April).

Click here for more information on Mumbrella events in the Australasian Leisure Management industry Calendar.

Image: Dreamworld's Thunder River Rapids ride - the scene of four fatalities last October. Image used for illustrative purposes only.

15th December 2016 - INAUGURAL LEISURE INDUSTRY COMMUNICATION AND MARKETING AWARDS

10th December 2016 - GUESTS TRICKLE BACK AS DREAMWORLD REOPENS 

28th October 2016 - DREAMWORLD DEFENDS SAFETY RECORD AFTER REVELATIONS OF PAST BREACHES

27th October 2016 - ARDENT LEISURE IN TURMOIL AFTER DREAMWORLD RIDE TRAGEDY

25th October 2016 - ARDENT LEISURE SHARES FALL AFTER DREAMWORLD TRAGEDY

25th October 2016 - FOUR KILLED IN TRAGIC INCIDENT ON DREAMWORLD’S THUNDER RIVER RAPIDS RIDE

5th August 2016 - CHIEFS HANDLING OF STRIPPER ALLEGATIONS SLAMMED AS PUBLIC RELATIONS DISASTER

18th November 2015 - AWARDS HONOUR THE BEST AUSTRALIAN EVENTS

5th August 2015 - HOW INVERCARGILL’S SPLASH PALACE HANDLED THE MEDIA DURING ITS ‘CODE BROWN’ CRISIS

15th June 2012 - WHY DID IT TAKE FITNESS FIRST FOUR YEARS TO SAY ‘SORRY’?


 

 

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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

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