Being immersed in an arena like that might be a constructive career challenge, and a potential opportunity to demonstrate serious marketing/comms capability for the individuals involved, yes – sure, but certainly not ‘fun’.
Where yesterday was all about what had Thomas Cook done wrong to cause itself such an undeniable PR disaster, surely today should be about the more constructive ‘what now?’
With share prices having already fallen and polls suggesting consumers are already inclined to consider booking their holidays elsewhere as a result of the debacle, what’s going to get this brand back on track?
First and foremost, it needs to start showing the compassion and humanity it lacked in the thick of its robotic legal-led responses.
It’s time for those at the very top to face both the family (priority) and cameras (subsequently) and admit they could and should have done more.
The family communication could be a key ‘strategy’ now – and that’s not to be seen as an underhand PR tactic, but more an opportunity to learn directly from the family how they as a company can improve their procedures and thus enhance their delivery and their humanised rapport with their customer base in the future.
By spending time really ‘listening’ to the family, one would hope that Thomas Cook would emerge with the start of a productive and positive initiative which could now perhaps gather momentum in the name of the two youngsters who so tragically lost their lives.
Let’s not forget – Thomas Cook were not found criminally responsible in this case.
As such, their biggest CRIME, has been the woeful lack of empathy and compassion in their dealing with the family as the case unfolded.
Indeed, the story itself (because sometimes it’s all too easy to forget what was at the heart of the original tragedy) centred on Bobby and Christi having died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning during a family holiday in 2006.
To get back to the kind of respectable and family oriented brand-associations which Thomas Cook once enjoyed, perhaps it should be mindful of that core story origin and look at exactly what constructive initiative it could put in place to become a campaigner for awareness around carbon monoxide, and improved legislation and safety checks in resorts.
This activity, while not likely to make us all forget how poorly they have communicated with the family thus far, would go a great deal of the way toward making current and potential customers feel that the business was pulling its socks up, accepting its misguided actions, and turning negatives into some constructive motion.
One doubts Thomas Cook will ever fully shake off the errors of this particular case, but just as other brands and businesses have done before it, it certainly can deploy some appropriate communication tactics to ensure this isn’t the long-term legacy of its corporate identity.
How it acts in the coming days and weeks will be the deciding factor in whether consumer trust and faith is restored once more – or whether indeed we continue to cast doubt and cynicism on a once trusted ‘family brand’.