Garuda Plane Crash, Indonesia

cases2Situation:  The 2007 Garuda plane crash in Indonesia was a major crisis in which 21 Australians were killed, including journalists, members of the Australian Federal Police and other government officials. The media attention on the incident was intense and had to be managed both within Indonesia and in Australia.

Strategy:  During the Garuda plane crash, the AFP lost two of its own members. The media response was intense and Kate identified and risk managed a number of sensitive stakeholder relationship issues, including arising issues with the Indonesian Government and sensitive matters with the families involved. AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty was identified as the Australian Government’s spokesperson for the incident and a media handling strategy was developed and implemented.

In addition to handling the external media pressure, Kate also led a team in the development of an internal communications strategy which was paramount in ensuring the Australian Federal Police responded appropriately to the tragedy and that information provided to the staff members who had lost two colleagues was informative and timely.

Development:  A media strategy which allowed access to the media to colleagues of those killed ensured that the deceased received appropriate recognition while ensuring the media received the information required for their news reports. Kate immediately deployed staff members to Indonesia to assist in the delicate media management there. Press conferences were held and briefings and interviews were conducted within tight time frames. The strategy was implemented within a pressured and highly sensitive environment.

Outcome:  The media reports contained accurate information and the strategic communications approach developed allowed media access to information, but also protected the loved ones of the deceased at a time of immense loss. Sensitivities with the Indonesian Government and media coverage were delicately handled.