Communications Lessons From The Suez Canal’s Blockage

Ships Suez Canal Egypt world shipping lanes

Last month the Suez Canal, which is a waterway that connects Europe and Asia, ended up blocked by a cargo ship for an extended period of time. This situation made for plenty of crisis communications lessons for business leaders who were following the event closely. The biggest lesson is the steps businesses should take immediately after a crisis to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

In fact, that’s precisely what the officials of the Suez Canal started doing in the aftermath of the canal blockage, which lasted for nearly a week.

The artificial waterway in Egypt is now to be deepened and widened in the future. That way, officials hope to avoid any potential  future  blockages of the canal in the future, similar to what happened last month. At the time, a giant cargo ship ran aground and managed to close off this crucial water connection between the Mediterranean and Red Seas.

Practically as soon as the ship blocked the canal, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, announced that a part of the waterway was to be widened by about 131 feet as well as deepened by 32 feet. Osama Rabie, the head of the SCA stated that with those adjustments, the movement of ships in that area of the waterway would be improved. 

First Priority

Whenever a brand or a corporation is recovering from a PR crisis, one of the first things on the to-do list should be carefully reviewing precisely what caused that crisis. After that, the organization should detail and implement changes and adjustments to its operations in order to make sure that a similar situation doesn’t happen again in the future.

For example, several years ago the coffee chain Starbucks found itself in the headlines in the wake of a PR crisis when two black men were wrongfully arrested after a manager called the police on them. The men were only waiting for their colleague before ordering drinks, and several weeks later the chain announced that it would be closing about 8000 of its locations nationwide  so that its employees could receive anti-bias training.

Making Changes

Every single PR crisis that makes news headlines gives business leaders an opportunity to learn how to avoid  future PR crises.  These days most companies spend a lot of time and resources preparing for a PR crisis.But in addition to making plans and gathering resources, they should also be learning from others. 

Not learning from others results in many companies neglecting to take some very valuable and necessary steps whenever a crisis ends up happening. Additionally, when a company does end up critically reviewing its mistakes, it’s rarely done efficiently and in a way that creates lasting changes. 

A PR crisis should  be a time for businesses to review and identify what the company’s strengths are, and which are the weaknesses that can be improved upon. That’s the only way that brands and corporations will be able to transparently review their performance during and after a crisis. Once a review is complete, the changes that are implemented shouldn’t be temporary – they should be long-lasting, and companies should be continuously monitoring operations for ways to improve.

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