We reported just the other day that Malaysia Airlines hired Ketchum to help with its PR efforts in the wake of missing flight MH390. Given the mystery and the tragedy of this situation and the way the airline handled it, it’s fitting that they would seek out professional communicators. But we may have reached a point where Ketchum’s job has gotten a little easier.
According to the authorities on this situation (CNN), “it could take months” or “years” to find out what happened to the aircraft. Actual officials say it’s possible we’ll never find out what happened.
Nearly a month after the disappearance of the airplane and with the promise of a lengthy, ongoing search, it looks like the once inexhaustible interest in the situation is getting exhausted.
Mashable (using data from Sysomos) says Twitter mentions of MH370 dropped 92 percent in less than a week, from a high on March 24 of 2,343,994 to 170,657 on Sunday. The article predicted that the media would start to pull back on coverage and we have noticed that the top spot on most newscasts and on The New York Times app has moved on to other topics.
Even if interest in the missing aircraft is waning, the memory of this horrible incident isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This could be a problem for the Malaysian tourism board, which had hoped to make 2014 the “Visit Malaysia Year.” The board had hoped to draw 28 million visitors to the country. But prospective Chinese and American tourists are unsettled, to say the least. And tourism, says the Christian Science Monitor, accounts for 12 percent of the country’s GDP.
After a spate of cancellations and negative reactions to the prospect of vacationing in Malaysia, the tourism board has cancelled a planned road tour through China. And web searches indicate that interest from the US has dropped also. Still, the tourism board has continued with a tour through India. And there’s hope that if other destinations could recover from a disaster, so too can Malaysia.
Experts interviewed by CSM predict that interest will bounce back with time. However, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promised, “We will spare no effort; we will not rest” until they get answers.
Even if it’s not dominating the news cycle, the public will be waiting for a resolution as well. And managing its reputation with the world should be a top priority for Malaysia — and the airline — for the foreseeable future.