Passenger Shipping Association 'not done enough' to reassure about cruising safety

The cruise industry's trade body has not been doing enough to proactively reassure people about the safety of cruising, according to two travel PR experts.

Costa Concordia: ran aground off the Italian coast (Rex Features)
Costa Concordia: ran aground off the Italian coast (Rex Features)

Following the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster last weekend, the Passenger Shipping Association has been working with its PR agency Four BGB to help defend the safety record of cruising in the media.

However, in this week’s PRWeek podcast, two travel PR agency bosses have said that they have not seen enough of the trade body in the news.

Brighter Group executive chairman Steve Dunne told PRWeek: ‘I haven’t seen a huge amount of evidence of the PSA. I feel that the media and the story are dictating the pace here.

‘I think that they have not done enough to get out there and put there side of the story in the context of cruising.’

Hills Balfour MD Jonathan Sloan agreed that the PSA seemed to have been focusing on reactive comms rather than proactively speaking out, but praised the PSA’s clarity of messaging: ‘They’ve been very clear in what they’re doing. They’ve come across very clear, very consistent and supportive of the whole industry.’

Sloan added that the body needed to be focusing its comms on reassuring families, as ‘these are the people they need in the long term’, over and above older groups. Dunne added that they needed to be reassuring people about the evacuation procedures that are in place on ships.

Four BGB MD Debbie Hindle responded: ‘The PSA reacted quickly to offer industry materials and spokespeople as soon as the news broke. An industry statement was ready first thing Saturday morning and [PSA director] Bill Gibbons gave the first of many interviews that morning and in the days that followed. The travel trade has had similar briefings and messaging to help agents advise customers.

‘However, this is a crisis of global interest and so we've also been working closely with the CLIA in the USA and European Cruise Council in Europe to share messaging for media and all PSA industry members.’

Hindle added that the three industry organisations set up a ‘global media briefing session’ yesterday in London which was attended by 70 UK and international media. This was livestreamed and had a live ITN feed for international broadcasters to take extracts.

Watch the full podcast here

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