Archive | January, 2012

Costa Concordia Shipwreck a PR Disaster

31 Jan

Dying because of a captain’s navigation error is probably the last thing on passengers’ minds when they board a luxury cruise ship. The sinking of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy earlier this month is being blamed on exactly that scenario, though. The wreck, and the resulting deaths of 17 passengers, represents an enormous threat to the brand images of Costa Cruises and its parent company, Carnival, the world’s largest cruise line. Costa and Carnival have said little in the wake of the accident, a public relations strategy that could damage not only the two companies but the entire cruise industry as well. 

How Not to Manage Your Public Relations

The captain, the crew and the cruise line have all been cast in a poor light since the accident. Media reports allege that the captain was one of the first to abandon ship, long before any of the passengers. Passengers claim that no emergency drills were ever conducted and that crewmembers had no idea how to operate the lifeboats. Costa Cruises’ strategy is simple: to blame the captain for the accident, saying he brought the ship too close to shore. The captain says the cruise line pressured him to do so for publicity purposes. The accident, the finger pointing and revelations about what happened after the ship hit a rock create an impression of ineptitude on the part of the cruise line and its employees that neither Costa nor Carnival are counteracting. 

Will Carnival’s Strategy Hurt the Entire Cruise Industry?

Carnival and Costa allow the pictures of the wrecked ship and stories of incompetence to speak for them, instead of getting out in front of the story by issuing a public statement, and showing empathy and concern during the crisis. This public relations strategy could be disastrous not only for both companies, but for the entire cruise industry as well, since most passengers don’t know which companies own which cruise ships. All cruise lines depend on positive imagery to win over vacationers and the lack of communication from Costa and Carnival could hurt all of their competitors, too. Adding insult to injury, Costa reportedly offered passengers from the wrecked ship a 30% discount off their next voyage with the company! The cruise line denies making the offer, but it doesn’t sound surprising considering how inept their handling of public relations continues to be in the wake of the accident.

by Matt Mantell


Carnival Cruise Lines faces a hostile PR tide” in the Miami Herald

Carnival CEO Lies Low After Wreck” in the Wall Street Journal.


Google’s Unique Take on Running a Company Makes its Way Into the Interview Room

31 Jan

The Questions

With the unemployment rate over eight percent, employers are facing the prospect of receiving more and more job applications for a single position. Top firms such as Google and Bank of America receive a disproportionate number of job applications than the average firm. Almost every applicant at these firms is qualified, and Google must do its best to pick the very best employee for the job. These firms are deemphasizing the traditional business questions like, “How would you describe yourself?” for more quirky ones such as, “Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco”(WSJ). Google also has asked, “A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune–what happened?” (WSJ). Questions like these are common for Google to ask.

The Logic

Firms design these types of questions to see how one thinks. Google and other firms do not look for one right answer to these types of questions. Applicants need to be able to show their employers that they can think through complex problems independently. Differentiation is key for applicants. Interviewers can begin to sort applicants by the way they answer the questions and hire the candidate that is best for the firm. Going to a top ten school and being on the dean’s list is not enough anymore. Make sure to research the firm and position. Find out what they desire most and what the position is focused on. While interviewing for a Quant job on Wall Street, make sure to brush up on probability and be ready for strange ways to answer those questions. Although these unique questions are becoming more popular, the way you act, dress, and present yourself are key to any interview.

by Chris Morehouse

More Interview Questions From Google:

Three Parts to Any Good Speech: How President Obama Follows These Three Simple Guidelines

31 Jan

Barack Obama serves as the most visible businessman in the United States. Although not everyone supports his presidency, few can say his rhetoric is lacking. Most would agree that the president possesses an impressive and effective ability to persuade his audiences. Obama provides a template of how to verbally develop a concrete rhetoric in his 2012 State of the Union Address. Throughout the course of President Obama’s speech, he breaks each of his topics into three components. Whether he is speaking of job creation, the war in the Middle East, or the American auto industry, President Obama is sure to touch on each of these three components:

State the Problem/Background

President Obama always states the problem prior to his involvement. This step is important because it gives his audience a starting point for them to evaluate his success or failure. Doing so also allows the audience to see what he is responsible for and what his predecessors are responsible for. President Obama does a good job of this while talking about job creation as he states, “In the six months before I took office we lost nearly 4 million jobs. We lost another 4 million before our policies were in full effect. Those are the facts.” By making this statement, he sets up a basis on which to build his credibility.

As someone looking to hone your public speaking skills, giving background information is a critical first step. Although you may not always be addressing an issue, in most instances, your audience will need some kind of background story to truly appreciate the meat of your speech.

State Your Actions

The next step President Obama takes is to state his actions. Without knowledge of his actions, it is much more difficult to attribute any results to Obama’s administration.  President Obama addresses his action on illegal immigration stating, “I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That’s why my administration has put more boots on the border than ever before.” Here he uses a concrete and simple statement to inform his listeners that he has taken action.

If you don’t prove that you’ve done the groundwork, listeners might not give you credit for your result. Your credibility can be supported even further by the use of numerical data.

Show Results

Lastly, President Obama states the results of his actions. Like everyday people, his employment depends on results. It is paramount that he strongly states the positive results of his actions. America depends on how President Obama leads this country.  Thus, failure to show progress would be detrimental to his persuasive message. Through statements like “Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies. Pakistan to Yemen, the Al Qaida operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they cant escape the reach of the United States of America,” and, “A year ago Gaddafi was one of the worlds longest serving dictators; a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today he is gone,” President Obama shows that the actions of his administration have caused positive results around the globe.

Results matter. Whether you’re presenting in a formal business setting or telling a story to a group of your friends, your speech always a purpose and a result. Your audience needs to know why what you are saying is important and how it relates to them. Doing so will give your audience reason to become more invested in you as well as what you are saying.

To see how President Obama follows these guidelines in his 2012 State of the Union Address follow this link:

by Melanie Gatewood

Why Honesty Should Be Our Best Policy

31 Jan

I arrive at my first class of second semester. The professor goes over the syllabus and then starts to cover the generalities of the course. He begins to use lingo particular to his area of study and then asks the class, “Are you familiar with the terms I’m using?” The class looks blankly back at him. When no one raises a hand, he continues to lecture.

Our unwillingness to admit when we don’t know an answer is a destructive tendency that inhibits our ability to learn. Social pressure, social norms, and the desire to fit in all fuel these natural tendencies. In a world that is increasingly competitive, who would happily admit to their faults in front of an entire class?

Nonetheless, communication is the only way we can learn. While it is essential that we use communication to convey the ideas and insights we are proud of, we must also be bold enough to use it to convey what we do not know. When it comes to our knowledge, honesty should be our best policy if we are going to work to better ourselves in the future.

by Jordan Gamble

Resumes Going Obsolete?

30 Jan

As you know, your resume is the first thing you worry about on a job hunt. Some career guidance classes specifically prepare you to write an effective resume. We put much emphasis on this piece of paper because your resume allows you to effectively communicate with our employers by portraying a still-shot of our life. Or does it?

A Different Approach

While browsing the website of the Wall Street Journal for some updates on the world I came across an article highlighting Union Square Ventures, a New York venture-capital firm, which took a different approach in looking for the best job candidates: through “Web Presence.” The firm decided that the depth of a candidate as perceived by the company through a resume is simply not enough for the firm to scan for the best candidate from the bunch. Thus they asked for links to Twitter or Tumblr blogs from the applicants to get a feel for how the candidates would fit into the company socially. This hiring anomaly doesn’t stop here., a company that makes bumper and marketing stickers, has also followed this radical path of screening applicants with an online survey. With the surveys tailored for each job position, the company indicates its belief that this alternative will serve as a “self-filter” for the enormous waves of applicants. They have set aside resumes as being an optional attachment. Even IGN Entertainment Inc, one of the better known gaming and media firm, took a different approach in looking for the best job candidates through online challenges and asking for a video that demonstrates the candidate’s passion for gaming.

What’s to Come?

The resume has been thought of as an effective means of communication with the employers because of the emphasis on conciseness. Now, however, as you can see from these cultural outbursts, our former belief might be scrapped. Conjecturing radical change might be too brash because most companies still put a primary emphasis on resumes for hiring. This shift in vision, however, shows that some companies have noticed the limitation of communication through a piece of paper.

Numerous opportunities for creative communication with employers are certain in the future. You won’t have to try to make a piece of paper come to life and tell the story of your life for you. The job search will become a chess game where your pawns represent your ways of communication and the opponent’s king, the will of your employer. You will have to stay a few moves ahead of your “opponent” to skillfully use your pawns to take your his king. A whole new era might come soon, and we need to be prepared for it through polishing our skills to communicate with another. So what’s your next move?

by Elliot Yun