While we sing well-deserved praise for the divers and all who contributed to the safe rescue of the Thai soccer team from that dangerous cave, a shout out is due to some unsung heroes of this ordeal. Those who managed the significant communications challenge performed admirably, too – a great case study in crisis communications.
The eyes of the world were watching day after day. Thousands of individuals were involved in the operation. International news crews were on site at the cave. Hour by hour no one knew how this event would unfold—anything could happen at any time. Here’s what the communications managers provided:
- Regular briefings of the news media, regardless of how much or how little new information was available, which minimized the risk of inaccurate reporting and rumor.
- Access to the cave rescue experts who described their challenges and preparation, including graphic descriptions of the dangerous passageway. This allowed mass media to educate their audiences.
- Access to operation leadership, providing consistent, accurate messaging and reassurance that someone was in charge of this dramatic rescue plan.
- Timely confirmation of the tragic death of the former Thai Navy SEAL who died in the rescue effort, recognizing his courage and returning the focus to the rescue effort still in progress.
- Handwritten notes exchanged between family members and the trapped team, providing a personal human element that reinforced hope.
- Privacy for family members who remained at the cave entrance in solidarity in a protected area until all team members were rescued.
- Privacy – via large umbrellas tilted sideways – for the boys as each one was carried from the cave to a waiting ambulance or helicopter.
While we await the successful return of the remaining divers, reporting will continue on the many lessons learned from this ordeal. The world has much to celebrate in this powerful story.