Following the tragic death of three skydivers on Mission Beach in Queensland last Friday, crisis comms expert Dr Neryl East considers what other brands can learn from the fallout.

When a business experiences the nightmare of multiple fatalities on its watch, its public communication must be open, human and consistent.So, where does a thriving listed company draw the line between empathy and “business as usual” when communicating with different audiences about such a tragedy?

Skydive the Beach Group – operating as Skydive Australia – found itself a key player in last Friday’s mid-air accident at Mission Beach in Queensland in which three skydivers died.

The next day, CEO Anthony Ritter’s media statement ticked the boxes of effective crisis communication. He outlined the facts as known by the company and conveyed the depth of the tragedy through heartfelt words and delivery. He also covered significant actions such as the suspension of skydiving at Mission Beach and the company’s cooperation with investigators.But the Skydive Australia website contains also an ASX announcement – difficult to find in the investors’section – which acknowledges the tragedy but is circumspect about the details; describing an accident “near the company’s Mission beach dropzone.”

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