Yes, Thomas Cook’s handling of the tragic deaths of two beautiful children, Bobby and Christi Shepherd in 2006, is a “PR disaster” I suppose, but actually it’s so much more than that: it’s a fundamental failure of heart. It is one of those stories that hurts one’s heart, and that is what the holiday firm often failed to heed, particularly over recent weeks.
It is true that such a tragedy involves legal considerations and compensation claims, which must be taken seriously, but at the end of the day little really matters except minimising pain to the parents and helping them in every way possible.
And despite Thomas Cook’s relatively new heart logo, the firm and some of its former employees too often failed to realise that.
Janet Street-Porter: A horror show from Thomas Cook that tells you all you need to know about ethical consumerism
Here the lawyers, the PR team and the management should have liaised closely. They should have ensured the logistics were made to fly the parents and coffins home sensitively; that heartfelt apologies could be made directly whenever appropriate (not via the media); and that extra donations could have been given promptly (not waiting for the Daily Mail to subsequently apply the pressure).
Maybe the PR team could have been more forceful in getting the management to do the right thing, which is why it’s a #PRfail, but ultimately the board should be the firm’s conscience.
Particularly in this era of aggressive media and total scrutiny via digital media, the true nature of corporate heart will eventually be exposed. So I would strongly advise any firm wishing itself a long and successful life to book itself a complete heart health check before it’s too late.Reuse content