Lack of Preparation Mars Costa Cruises Press Conference

In any crisis, first impressions are the most important. So when Costa Cruises chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi held a news conference on Monday, Jan. 16, the eyes of the world were on him. PR News asked media training expert Jerry Doyle, principle at CommCore Consulting, to review the press conference video (now posted on Costa’s site via YouTube). Doyle says Costa Cruises was ill-prepared for the press conference, based on the following:

  • The press conference was short and the CEO was vague. “The only other communication from him came in the form of five or six Twitter posts—woefully insufficient,” says Doyle.

  • Foschi’s message about the exhaustive “policies, procedures and physical training” that ship and shore Costa employees undergo lacked any qualifying detail, which undermines his assertions that this incident was a fluke or an exception.

  • The CEO took questions only in the form of written notes. This may well have been a language/translation issue. But, while not allowing a free-flowing Q&A format offers Costa and the CEO an element of control, it also risks the perception that he was not prepared to answer live questions.

  • The comments section was disabled on YouTube. “This is a PR mistake,” says Doyle. “Sure, there would been some nasty com- ments levied against the company, but stifling public comment makes them look like they don’t believe their own words.” 

PR News subscribers can read more insights from veteran communications pros on crisis response in: "PR Lessons to Be Learned From the Costa Concordia Tragedy."

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