CRISIS MANAGEMENT

KATUNAYAKE AIRPORT ATTACK RECOVERY
Case Study: Sri Lanka Tourism

The Challenge

Just two months prior to 9/11/2001, Sri Lanka witnessed a devastating terrorist attack of its international airport by the LTTE, which destroyed several SriLankan Airlines aircraft and put its tourism industry into a tailspin. The attack of the country's main external gateway had the potential of causing severe and long-term damage to the country's image and its tourist industry. We offered our pro bono assistance to the Sri Lanka Tourist Board in their damage control and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the attack.

The Strategy and Program

In addition to offering the services of our staff at the Sri Lanka Tourist Board's information centre, the Agency made suggestions for tracking and conveying a fast recovery and for getting the support of opinion leaders in providing perspective and reassurance.

Accordingly, the Agency worked with the state television to capture the recovery process and edited this into a video of the fast recovery titled "7 days in Colombo." The Agency, which had been handling the Asian Netball Championships being held at that time in Colombo, worked with the Sri Lanka Tourist Board to have the Asian Netball Teams and the New Zealand and Indian cricket teams also playing in Sri Lanka at that time continue their tours and actively help in the maintenance of a undeterred, realistic and supportive perspective of the situation.

The video featured the progress of the recovery process in the first 7 days and conveyed a realistic and reassuring picture of the ground situation. It showed the resumption of flights in a matter of days, interviews with airline pilots and visitors to Sri Lanka on their feelings about coming to Sri Lanka and safety, the continuation of the sporting events in Sri Lanka during this time, supportive statements from the teams and managers, and also a celebration event organised for the sporting teams leading to the resumption of business-as- usual.

COMBATING A STRIKE
Case Study: Ceylon Biscuits

The Challenge

Our Client, Ceylon Biscuits, was in a crisis situation when their factory workers, incited by a politically affiliated trade union, struck work in the middle of their peak season for local sales and exports. Though the company was already offering workers a generous four-month bonus, the workers were being goaded to demand for more and adversely affect production unless the demands were granted. In the preceding months, several other companies too had suffered similar strikes. The company decided that they would not be held to ransom and wished to expose the unjust demands they were facing and the detriment to their and the country's export business.

The Strategy and Program

The company had sought to take a common stand with the other companies affected, but as cooperation was taking time, the Company and Agency concurred that, with no time to be lost, they will go it alone to draw public and government attention to their case.

Accordingly, the Agency called a media conference overnight, which also lent to conveying the urgency of the matter. The company adopted an aggressive stance and an "attack is the best form of defence" strategy. Management used the conference to condemn the unjustified and illegal union activity as being detrimental to the company, country and employees, many of whom wished to return to work but were being threatened and held back by the trade union. The company urged the government to intervene and threatened to close the factory and take their operations overseas unless a more reasonable union response prevailed.

The Results

The media highlighted and editorialized the case as a national issue, which got the Labour Commissioner involved and pressurized the unions to come to a settlement. Within a very short time, the strike ended and production was back in swing to meet pending export orders and local New Year sales. The Company also earned a positive reputation in the corporate sector for its bold stance.

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