In late 1999 – in the wake of a spate of highly publicised diving fatalities – I completed a manual intended to help dive industry professionals deal more effectively with negative media publicity and criticism.
Although presently in the throes of updating the content to reflect the changing importance of, for example, social media outlets, several sections have a certain timeless relevance that may prove helpful to dive operators.
With that in mind, I will – periodically – post snippets to this blog. But to start at the beginning …
At some point in our lives most of us will have to deal with the consequences of poor judgement. If we’re fortunate then these episodes – not always of our own making – will be easily and speedily resolved. In extreme cases, however, an imperfectly considered action can have devastating outcomes.
With the benefit of hindsight it’s always easy to appreciate what might have been done differently to prevent a tragedy. This holds especially true for diving incidents that involve injury or loss of life.
As an adventure activity that takes place in a hostile and alien environment, diving is subject to certain risks that should be readily apparent to everyone who dives. All too often, however, the potential for harm is minimised or overlooked completely.
Although it’s doubtful that any dive operator would regard their practices as unsafe, they often fail to consider all of the, ‘what-ifs’ of diving. Based on an assumption that their operational systems are perfectly adequate, they seldom review their procedures as often as they should.
Now regarded as an essential tool for all sectors of the diving industry, effective Risk Management strategies help the dive professional identify potential problem areas and, by allowing constant improvements to safety, reduce their exposure to liability issues and the economic impact of adverse criticism – particularly in those instances when the facts surrounding an incident become the subject of media attention.
There’s an old military adage, “Train hard: Fight easy.” It’s one that might equally be applied to the diving industry. Time and money spent in preparing oneself for something that – hopefully – will never happen is not wasted. It’s a smart business investment and one that may help avert a future mishap.
Nevertheless, and despite all of their best precautions, a dive operator may still have to deal with the aftermath of a dive related incident. Even when they’re blameless in the matter, the repercussions of a highly publicised diving tragedy can have a profound and lasting effect on both their personal and business reputations.
As a risk management tool, the purpose of this manual is to give the dive professional a better appreciation and understanding of the media and – by learning to work more effectively with it – how to reduce their exposure to criticism and negative publicity in the wake of an incident.
Categories: Crisis Management Manual