The Sea Diamond vs. the Bourbon Dolphin–the bad and the great in crisis communication

April 16, 2007

So far, from what we have seen, the sinking of the cruise ship the Sea Diamond provided a very bad example of crisis communications–made much worse by the comment just received about the incredibly poor compensation offering. While this has been much more the focus of attention, another disaster at sea occurred: the sinking of the tug Bourbon Dolphin. While the Sea Diamond has shown many examples of what not to do, the Bourbon capsizing has shown some excellent examples of how crisis communication ought to be handled.

Here is the Bourbon’s basic news site: http://bourbon-online.com/News (One criticism–their homepage has no reference to the disaster other than the news page. The unintended message is that it is business as usual.)

Of particular note is this message from the CEO of Bourbon: http://bourbon-online.com/Bourbon-Dolphin-Message-from-the

There are few better examples of demonstrating the pain and hurt that is experienced by an organization and its leaders in a situation such as this. But this only works when their response efforts and the communication of those response efforts is an accurate reflection of the sentiments expressed here. From what I can tell, they certainly were.

The contrast between these two is great.

Thank you Mark Harris, crisis manager with the UK strategic communication firm College Hill for this example.

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One Response to “The Sea Diamond vs. the Bourbon Dolphin–the bad and the great in crisis communication”


  1. Gerald,

    Indeed it seems Bourbon is trying very hard to be ‘open’ about the situation. Personally, I feel that this is the best way to handle such a crisis.


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