The inquest into the death of 2 children, Bobbi & Christi Shepherd, on a Thomas Cook holiday in Corfu made headline news. The company faced severe criticism for the way it treated the families of the children particularly over the CEOs refusal to apologise. As is often the case legal advisers were at the forefront of the communications advice. Pressure was mounting on Thomas Cook and their shareholders, creditors were threatening to pull their support and boycotts were being called for in the press. In short, the company was facing collapse.
On the 7th of May 2015, having already conducted a crisis scenario exercise with the executive team at Thomas Cook, we were called in to help limit the damage and advise on communications strategy.
You can't imagine how much I was appreciating your help and your support. You were the one who helped me out of a mission almost impossible that day. And this I will not forget!
Peter Fankhauser, CEO, Thomas Cook 2015
Our advice was to push back against the legal counsel they were being given regarding apologising. To stand any chance of rehabilitation in the media they must apologise to the family in person and begin to build a relationship with them. That process began and more favourable coverage followed. An exclusive interview for Peter Fankhauser the CEO with ITV news was arranged and we prepared Peter accordingly.
A subsequent meeting with the family saw the company starting to build bridges and a long term brand re-build took place. This included the setting up of The Safer Tourism Foundation www.safertourism.org.uk as a legacy for the children Bobbi and Christi. This foundation still exists today.