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Malaysia Airlines Strategic Communication Plan

Table of Contents

Executive Summary 3

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Introduction 4

Malaysia Airlines 4

Situational Analysis 5

SWOT Analysis 5

Communication Strategy 8

Identifying the Target Audiences 8

Determining the Communication Objectives (SMART) 10

Designing Messages 11

Choosing Media 11

Media Schedule (GANTT Chart) 12

Summary 13

References 14

Executive Summary

This is a strategic communication plan for the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to help the company rebuild its financial, economical and social reputation in the sector of global online following the two airline crashes. This plan is developed and presented by the senior communication officer at the Malaysia airline. The two plane air crashes occurred in 2014 and involved the airlines flight 17 over Ukraine and the flight 370, which disappeared and has never been recovered. There was massive loss of human life and financial loss to the Malaysia airline. The company showed lack of a communication plan during the two events and thus there is need to have a strategic communication plan in place by the airline management to save their brand image and reputation.

To achieve this, the paper provides a strategic communication plan which outlines the communication strategy for the airline. The first part includes an introduction to MAS and a detailed review of the two airlines crashes and their communication failures. Next, the paper provides a comprehensive situational analysis of the occurrence in regard MAS strength, weakness, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis. The paper will continue to provide the communication strategy for the MAS through identifying the target audiences, determining its communications objectives through use of the SMART strategy. The communication strategy provides the messages design and the media choice for the MAS. The media schedule is presented through use of the Gantt chart. Lastly, the paper provides a summary of the strategic communication plan by presenting the recommended and desirable outcomes for the MAS Company.

Introduction

Malaysia Airlines (MAS)

Malaysia Airline system (MAS) is an airline that has operations in Kuala Lumpar and travels to major operations and destinations within the Asia continent and Europe. It begun its operation in 1947 and carries a Kite design logo (Malaysia Airlines, 2015). The airline has scheduled flights in port of Subang and Penang operated under Firefly subsidiary. Additionally, there is the MAS cargo-hold aircraft under the MASKargo and fleet freight.

According to Malaysia Airlines (2015), the overall performance of the airline company has been good with high positive performance aviation industry awards during the years 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2013. Additionally, the company has received leading airlines for World travel awards. However, the availability of carries that re loc-cost led the company to struggled in its operations to cut costs and has resulted to huge losses leading the airline avoidance of unprofitable routes I.e. America, South Africa. Then a big loss followed the trouble of the MAS Company.

In the year 2014 March, MAS experienced a massive loss of flight 370 – MH370, which traveling to China from Malaysia (Malaysia Airlines, 2015). The Boeing 777-200ER was lost over China south Sea after taking off from Kula Lumpar Airport (Patterson, 2014). The plane was carrying passengers’ total of 227 from various nations and had 12 crew members (Whitby, 2014).

Furthermore, five months later on July MAS was struck by another loss of the flight 17 –MH17 (Malaysia Airlines, 2015). The flight was scheduled to fly to Malaysia from Amsterdam. The flight crashed in Ukraine killing all in bound, a total number of 298 passengers died (Patterson, 2014). Due to poor communication and observation of travel routes the plane got hit by a missile in enemies’ territory.

The focus on communication failure is experienced in the situation where the airline MH17 was shot down by separatists of Russia and the wreckage and victims remain access by the media (BBC, 2014). The communication strategy on the side of Malaysia airlines is not sufficient to the family members and what they received is media controversies. The MH370 crisis was mishandled by the management of the airlines, where the information concerning the disappearance of the plane was never reveled or was partly revealed and most of the world and so to family members were left wondering about the plane disaster (Johnson, 2014).

How can the company maintain it’s reputable and award winning brand name? The next chapter the paper concentrates on the situational analysis of the MAS through SWOT analysis.

Situational Analysis

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis presents the company internal and external environment an assessment criterion to assist in the identification of the suitable marketing strategies and communication plan (Harrison, 2015).

The paper provides the SWOT analysis from strengths to threats of the Malaysia airlines entailing the external and internal information data available concerning the communication and operational processes of the airlines.

Strengths of the Malaysia Airlines

  • MAS airline serves a big number of the destinations in Asia and offer flights to part of Europe and Oceania destinations (Malaysia Airlines, 2015).
  • There is strong reputation and brand name of the MAS through achievement of the top seven World Travel Awards and Rating of Five-star in aviation industry form the Skytrax in over six years from 2005-2013 (Malaysia Airlines, 2015).
  • Malaysia has a strong and devoted workforce of 2,400 employees ready to take on the MAS flight journey into new destinations (Malaysia Airlines, 2015).
  • The company is a member of Oneworld alliance since February 2013, which offers it the ability to connect to various destinations around the world total of 850 destinations in total of counties 150 across (Malaysia Airlines, 2015).
  • The client and customer base of the airline is loyal due to its presence in the Asia continent offering travel service in almost every city.
  • MAS offer MASkargo service involving freight fleet to mange cargo-hold aircraft and freighter flights (Malaysia Airlines, 2015).
  • The Malaysian government is fully supportive of the airlines operations as it seeks to diversity the country investment in tourism and aviation growth.
  • The innovation and schedule efficiency of its aircrafts top notch has MAS has acquired A380-800 Airbus and launched it to London Heathrow Airport in 2012 (Malaysia Airlines, 2015).

Weakness of the Malaysia Airlines

  • The MAS company has suffered financial losses up to $1.2 billion has it tries to cut costs and meet the level of the carries in the region that are low-cost (Zhang, 2014).
  • The market share of the company has decreased as the recent disasters and rationalisation has rendered the airline less attractive to potential travellers.
  • The organisation structure of the airline is inefficient as the communication desk lack information concerning its airlines (Patterson, 2014).
  • The disasters of MH370 and MH17 led to huge loss of lives, which resulted to anger and frustration by most of its customers (Patterson, 2014).
  • The airline marketing capabilities are not sufficient to reach out to all the interested parties in regard to it active travel routes.

Opportunities of the Malaysia Airlines

  • MAS offer different subsidiaries, including the ground handling of the aircraft, the aviation engineering, leasing of aircrafts and tour operations (Malaysia Airlines, 2015).
  • In regard to current disaster of the flight 17 the focus is on the perpetrators of the Russian separatists’ missile launch and terrorism activities, no focus is on the airline failure (Johnson, 2014).
  • The airline can redeem its image after the recent MH370 disaster through ensuring crisis management in the recent MH17 accident by doing PR campaigns (Sobel, & Blevins, 2014).
  • There is massive growth in tourism in Singapore and trade due to deregulation in ASIA thus MAS can capitalize on marketing on the new open areas.
  • The communication strategy of the MAS in accordance to recent disaster has improved and is able to couple with any crisis that may rise in future (Manjur, 2014).

Threats of the Malaysia Airlines

  • MAS has recorded profit turnaround in 2013 through route rationalisation, however there has been big loss in customer base as it concentration on the profitable routes within Asia.
  • Increased accidents in the ASIA Aviation industry after flight 17 and 370 accidents i.e. TransAsia killing 48 people, is changing the security perceptions of most of the customer base who deem it cursed (Sobel, & Blevins, 2014).
  • The airline faces lawsuits from passengers lost family members, which would cost the airlines huge financial losses (Patterson, 2014).
  • The employees in the MAS Company are not comfortable any longer and are opting for other airlines or different career line due to loss of life and colleagues.

Communication Strategy

Identifying the Target audience

A communication plan needs to offer audience-specific communication as the organization involved need to understand the message response mechanism from the customers (UnLtd, 2015). The message dispatched after the tragedy is received differently by different people in various countries thus segmentation of the audience or the market is important (Baines1a, Worcesterb, Jarrettc, & Mortimored, 2003). Below are the target audience.

Asia Audience

The Asia audience uses the airline on daily bases as MAS as cemented its base operations within the region. These include the South, North and Middle East Asia; MAS offers around 60 destinations within these regions. The Southern Asia has major audience and the airline operated with its MASWings subsidiary in the provision of adequate travel services (Malaysia Airlines, 2015). However, after the MH370 disaster there has been hostility and anger from the Chinese communities has most of the passenger lost were from china, over 122 (Whitby, 2014).

Europe Tourist Audience

Many European tourist tour the area for beauty and cultural satisfaction. According to Whitby (2014), the airline carries global customers and operates over 47,000 passengers most of who are tourists and business traders. The disappearing of flight MH370 was received in shock by the European nation and the preceding Travel Distribution summit in Europe, MAS marketing director Dean Dacko talked of the big scrutiny by the European market (Whitby, 2014). The Europe market is sensitive to communication strategy and requires a comprehensive report regarding the accident. The airline could get sanctions if it never provides a clear and defined report concerning the loss of the planes and the leading causes of the two disasters.

Malaysian Audience

This is the major and most communication sensitive to MAS message and plan in dealing with the disasters. The Malaysian citizens fill non-presented through lack of basic information concerning the disasters of the country’s major airlines. The MAS relies much to its citizen to make major travel arrangement in regards to trade operations with other countries.

Government Audience

According to Zhang (2014) the government have a majority shareholding in the company as they provided multiple bailouts for the unprofitable airline and plan to nationalize MAS. The government are the internal stakeholder and information plus communication strategy needs to get comprehensive information form MAS executives. Najib Razak, the Malaysia prime minister is well concerned with the flight 17 loss and launches investigation to ensure that his people are well informed and served (Patterson, 2014).

Employee Audience

Indeed, employee team members in charge of marketing of MAS strategies and travel services were assaulted by the affected members after the flights disaster took place. There is need to provide sufficient communication strategy to employees audience before communicating information to the public concerning the incidence. They are directly involved and have lost close friends.

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Determining the Communication Objectives (SMART)

The objective for the strategic communication plan needs to be specific, measurable, Oriented in action, be realistic and bounded by time (Melcrum, 2015). The MAS Company can determine and achieve SMART objectives through the following.

  • Provide a spokesperson to be able to address the various issues and concerned raised by our target audience and the spokesperson should show empathy.
  • Hire an outside agency of communications to offer long-term and short-term response to crisis and close marketing gap to our public and government audience (Day, 2011).
  • Ensure employee audience confidence and loyalty through holding meeting with them to discuss our situation at hand and provide comprehensive report of the accidents.
  • Marketing director Dacko to attend Europe Travel Distribution summit to be able to raise the awareness to Europe tourist audience of security compliance by our airline.
  • Set a help point centre/desk at our various destinations, in China, Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpar Airport to provide information and search of accident information.
  • The grieving family members should be faced by our senior member of our airline especially the Chinese and Malaysian families.
  • Publishing of condolences message across the major media stations and newspaper and on our main company website to target all audience.

Designing Messages

The message will be designed according to each target audience as message is perceived differently by different communities.

  • Asia Audience: You offer Malaysia Airlines a huge customer base due to our good friendship and operations efficiency, we are still friends and we will hold your hand.
  • Europe tourist Audience: Security compliance and communication remain deep rooted in our airline standards and regulations.
  • Malaysian Audience: We have always held your back and we will always hold your back in our recent hard times.
  • Government Audience: Our investigation will provide insightful information concerning the incidences and how to avoid it completely.
  • Employee Audience: We have secure our front offices/desk, kindly understand our situation and you will be first to know of any new information.

Choosing Media

The best media platform varies with different target audience and the communication channels have been provided below in term of suitability.

  • Asia Audience: Newspapers for China as the 80 million populations will read it, Television, Website, Online Newspaper (Bui, 2013).
  • Europe tourist Audience: Social media twitter and FaceBook, and our own website (Extension, 2014). E-bulleting, Summit meetings, Financial media
  • Malaysian Audience: The general public of Malaysia are good with National television, Magazines, Local Newspapers, National Radio
  • Government Audience: Press release, Publications, National Newspapers, Television, Personal contact, Brochures
  • Employee Audience: leaflets, Direct Mail, Publications, Website

Media Schedule (Gantt chart)

A media schedule will help illustrate the Gantt chart that will help us implement phases of strategic communication plan. It includes the project schedule with dates for implementing the plan together with project summary and terminal elements for the project structure of work breakdown (Harrison, 2015).

Media Task Reporting Date
Date/Month 29/July 30/July 3/Aug 10/Aug 12/Aug 15/Aug 20/Aug
Preliminary Investigation
Interviews
Draft Report
Evaluation
Final Report
Training

Figure 1: Gantt chart for MAS Media Strategic Communication Plan (Harrison, 2015).

Summary

In conclusion, MAS tragedy of flight MH17 and MH370 resulted into a big backlash from the international population due to the poor crisis management strategy for the airline disastrous occurrences. MAS Company has a major communication failure with its staff and its airline systems after disasters. The reputation of their brand lies on developing a strategic communication plan. The MAS company SWOT analysis reviews poor company structure weaknesses, dissatisfied employee workforce, increased government involvement opportunities, rationalisation threats, increased tourism growth opportunities, suffering financial crisis and raising security fear threats. The major MAS target audience for the communication strategic plan are the Asia community, the Europe traders and tourists and more to its Malaysian audience, the Government who are the majority shareholder and their Employees. SMART communication objectives include the hiring of communication agency, appointing director to attend summits, employing a spokesperson, having meeting with employees and communicating with the affected families. The message design for each target audience should be different and should be specific according to their contribution and their involvement with the airline. The choice of media include the national newspaper, radio and television for the Asia and Malaysian general public, the press release and publications for the government stakeholders, website to reach audience through social media and the direct mail to reach the employees audience. Indeed, for the company to maintain it’s reputable and award winning brand name and image they should implement the provided strategic communication plan.

Malaysia Airlines Strategic Communication Plan

References

Baines1a, P., Worcesterb, R., Jarrettc, D., & Mortimored, R. (2003). Market segmentation and

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April 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28357880

Bui, T. (2013). Integrated marketing communications plan for online newspaper, case: ESs.fi of

Mediatalo Esa. Web. 22 April 2015

https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/58041/Tu_Bui.pdf?sequence=1

Day, G. (2011). Closing the marketing capabilities gap. American Marketing Association.

Journal of Marketing, 75, 183–195.

Extension. (2014). Social media communications plan: outline of technologies and methods

used by organizational advancement. Web. 22 April 2015.

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/documents/socialmedia/social_media_plan.pdf

Harrison, K. (2015). Key insights into implementing PR plans. Web. 22 April 2015.

http://www.cuttingedgepr.com/articles/prplans_key_insights.asp

Johnson, E. D. (2014, December). Malaysia airlines: A lesson in crisis management. Strategic

Vision. Web. 22 April 2015. http://www.commpro.biz/corporate-communications/crisis-communications-corporate-communications/malaysia-airlines-crisis/

Kotler, P., & Armstrong, G. (2004). Principles of marketing: Analyzing the market environment

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Tenth edition.

Malaysia Airlines. (2015). Malaysia airlines. Web. 22 April 2015.

http://www.malaysiaairlines.com/my/en.html

Manjur, R. (2014, March). Experts commend MAS’ comms strategy. Web. 22 April 2015.

Melcrum. (2015). Communication Strategy: 9 steps to effective strategic planning. Web. 22

April 2015. https://www.melcrum.com/research/strategy-planning-tactics/9-steps-effective-strategic-planning#sthash.oRV2ghm5.dpuf

Patterson, T. (2014). Malaysia air faces new, serious threat as company.CNN

Web. 23 April 2015. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/17/world/europe/malaysia-airlines-sidebar/

UnLtd. (2015). Understanding your target audience and defining your value proposition.

Web. 22 April 2015. https://unltd.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/theme-6.pdf

Sobel, S., & Blevins, D. (July, 2014). Malaysia airlines and others wish perception didn’t trump

reality: Can proactive PR, laced with psychology, help the aviation industry? Web. 22 April 2015. http://www.macstrategies.com/brand-and-reputation-management/malaysia-airlines-and-others-wish-perception-didnt-trump-reality/

Whitby, P. (2014, May). Dark days: How Malaysia airlines managed an ‘unprecedented’ crisis

in a digital world. Web. 22 April 2015. http://www.eyefortravel.com/social-media-and

marketing/dark-days-how-malaysia-airlines-managed-unprecedented-crisis-digital

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Zhang, B. (2014). Three ways Malaysia airlines can deal with its uncertain future. Web. 22

April 2015. http://www.businessinsider.my/malaysia-airlines-uncertain-future-2014-7/#tyw2M01xiQcXhXxR.99

Malaysia Airlines Strategic Communication Plan