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Cathay Pacific searches for PR network to handle global crisis communications

Cathay Pacific cabin crew striking over pay last year; pic: SCMP

Cathay Pacific cabin crew striking over pay last year; pic: SCMP

Cathay Pacific is looking to hire a PR network to handle the airline’s crisis communications around the world.

The premium Hong Kong carrier currently works with Edelman for PR counsel out of Hong Kong, and wants a network to manage crisis communications globally.

Cathay Pacific’s group social media manager Dennis Owen said this afternoon that the airline has drawn up a shortlist, and is in the final stages of a review.

The long-serving Owen, who was appointed to lead Cathay Pacific’s social media function just over a year ago, has been working on a plan to integrate social media with crisis communications and the agency appointment will be part of this initiative.

In an interview with Mumbrella at the Socialbakers Engage event in Bali, Owen said: “When companies have a crisis situation, how you communicate as a brand may end up being more important than what you do and what actually happened.”

“We’re now looking for a global partner, and Edelman is one of them. It’s great to have them [Edelman] in Hong Kong, but we’re an airline and an incident could happen anywhere around the world,” he said. “We’re narrowed it down to a few, but we still haven’t made a selection yet.”

Among the issues Cathay Pacific is now working on is what to do about live video, such as Facebook Live and Periscope, in the context of crisis communications as the airline now allows on-board wi-fi on some planes. “There are two ways that I look at it – a brand opportunity and a brand risk,” he said.

His two main priorities for the year ahead are to secure a global crisis communications partner agency, and to introduce around the clock customer care using social media, Owen said.

The interview is to run in full on Mumbrella on Tuesday.

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