March 24, 2014 by Colin Kelly
Let the commentators and armchair ‘communications experts’ weigh in and have their outrage.
I appreciate Malaysian Airlines hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory these last couple of weeks but what else were they supposed to do in this case?
Tell families face to face? They did.
Tell those they couldn’t reach face to face by telephone? They did.
What everyone else is overlooking is that the families who received this news via text message were a small minority. The others had already been reached by other means, more personal means.
What were they supposed to do for the remaining few, who they had been unable to reach? Not tell them and allow them to hear things second hand, with no official communication from the airline? Let them hear it on the news, or let them overhear it in the queue at the shop?
They had to do something.
And SMS text messages are a perfectly legitimate form of communication, even, as in this unfortunate case, for extremely bad news, of a very personal nature.
How the message is worded is a different matter, although in this case the company appears to have done fairly well, sticking very closely to what the Malaysian Prime Minister would say in his speech. The airline is merely passing on something important that the government is saying.
‘They told families loved ones were dead by text message’ is what the critics will scream.
The truth is more complex and I don’t think Malaysian Airlines should be criticised for this.