Using a Corporate Blog to Navigate Tricky Public Relations Waters

Haiti Labadee Bay

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Royal Caribbean faces criticism as it resumes travel to Haiti after the devastating earthquake.

Haiti Labadee Bay

Their blog opens the communication channels between the company, customers, investors and the media.

However, the blog points out that they are delivering relief supplies, contributing to the local economy of vendors, and $1 million plus all profits from visiting the area will be donated to humanitarian efforts. They have given information on supporting relief efforts, as well. Please consider making a donation to their recommended charity, Food for the Poor.

The Press Reports the Story

CNN reports on this issue in their article, Haiti cruise stops draw ire, support.

Blogs and message boards have been full of outrage and disgust at the idea of tourists frolicking in the sun while bodies pile up in Port-au-Prince and quake survivors struggle to stay alive. …

In a statement issued after the earthquake, the United Nations World Tourism Organization also weighed in, saying that “tourism can become a useful instrument for the necessary reconstruction process in Haiti.”

History shows other examples of the importance of tourism to devastated areas: New York inviting visitors after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and New Orleans, Louisiana, appealing for tourist dollars after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The Public Weighs in with Comments

The blog allows people to voice their opinion either way, including support from commenters outside the company:

POSITIVE: I just wanted to mention that through my travels with Royal Caribbean, I have learned that quite a few of the islands in the Caribbean come to rely on the passengers of your cruise ships for an income.

NEGATIVE: I just heard you on NPR. You did yourself NO favors. The interview was a complete disaster. … My burning question, I had through your interview was why not drop your passengers off at some alternative and use the “whole” ship — not just 4o pallets — and provide it as a hospital ship or a supply ship == and why does everything have to be a tit for tat — why do you need to have the humanitarian aid be a “commercial” venture. Unbelievable. I know this posting wont see the light of day, but I hope that Mr Goldstein will read this and next time choose just to be silent and just do the right thing.

My Thoughts

I refrain from passing judgment either way, but we do applaud the company for using their blog to address the concern.  Royal Caribbean has made an excellent use of social media by not ignoring the social dialog that was buzzing across the internet.

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