Facing the information void: A case study of Malaysia Airlines’ media relations and crisis communication during the MH370 disaster

Norman Zafra, Elena Maydell

Abstract


The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH370 has been one of the most highly discussed and debated crises in recent times. The situation has put the organisation into the spotlight of global attention both as a business entity and as an extension of the Malaysian government. Drawing on mediating the media model (Pang, 2010) and information processing and knowledge management framework (Coombs, 2012), this study evaluates the air carrier’s relationship with the media and online communication strategies during the crucial first two weeks of the crisis. The data were collected from Malaysia Airlines’ traditional and new media public relations practices and were analysed using a qualitative case study methodology (Yin, 2009). This study argues that the unfavourable representation of Malaysia Airlines by its media stakeholders was complicated by both controlled and uncontrolled crisis elements ranging from information void to fragile relationship with the press.


Keywords


MH370; Malaysia Airlines; media relations; information void; crisis communication; airline accidents

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