Sep 30th 2013

London Duck Tours


It is hard to imagine anything more damaging to the reputation of a tour operator than pictures being beamed around the world of tourists jumping from a blazing pleasure boat. That was the fate that faced London Duck Tours when the vessel, the Cleopatra, caught fire on the Thames.

A reputation built up over years can be damaged in a matter of seconds. LDT’s yellow, amphibious vehicles, are a popular sight in London as they move from river to road, giving passengers a unique perspective of the city’s highlights. But whatever the heritage, a crisis can be born in a matter of seconds
Long gone are the days when organisations could spend hours getting their story in order before the roll of the morning presses or the airing of the next broadcast bulletin. The popularity of social media means that all of us are now publishers. There is nothing we enjoy more than sharing and liking the latest message or photograph. Those brands who aren’t listening to what is being said about them, are at risk of having those conversations turn into campaigns before they are even aware that anything is wrong.
Crises like this can happen anytime and anywhere.
It was Sunday afternoon when the Cleopatra caught fire. The news wasn’t broken by a journalist but by pictures being beamed by eyewitnesses live from the scene. Time is of the essence and time spent tracking down senior managers who are enjoying a well deserved day off, is time wasted, and time when the brand is exposed.
A company statement has been placed on its website and shared across social media:
Previous tour goers and fans have been quick to jump to its defence with positive messages. Social media can be hazardous for brands but this kind of positive reinforcement can go a long way to preserve a reputation. This shows the value of relationship building in “peacetime” and it is sure to help when, and if, issues do hit
Most importantly everyone involved in this incident is safe and well. The results of inquiries, that have already been launched, will determine the scale of the damage to the reputation of London Duck Tours.
To ensure that you protect your reputation and take control of issues when they occur, act fast. Speed matters. Stories break in seconds and can be shared around the globe. A company’s response needs to be measured but equally as fast. Know what is happening and who is saying what. Be sure you can contact your senior team at anytime where ever they are and prepare, prepare, prepare.
Ducking the issue is not the answer

Keith Beech is director of Core Management – Crisis, Organisation and Reputation which is part of the Nexus Communications Group