KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia Airlines is believed to be working with longtime agency partner Perowne Charles Communications (PCC) for crisis support on its downed airliner over Ukraine and has not called on Ketchum — the firm hired after the disappearance of flight MH370 in March.
The airline, which has now suffered two tragic incidents in the space of six months, is thought to have so far eschewed hiring a specialist crisis firm for the MH17 situation. Sources say Malaysia Airlines' work with Ketchum on the loss of MH370, which began in March, had already come to a halt before the loss of MH17.
Accordingly, the decision is unrelated to Ketchum's role overseeing PR for Russia's economic development and inward investment efforts. Ketchum has worked for Russia since 2006, but its remit does not include foreign or domestic policy.
It is believed that PCC — the UK PR firm that has handled Malaysia Airlines' UK PR assignment for two years — has deployed a team on the ground in Amsterdam, where the doomed flight originated before being shot down by a missile from an area inside Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists. PCC co-founder Paul Charles, formerly Virgin Atlantic's communications chief, is currently in Amsterdam coordinating the PR response.
Taking lessons from its widely-criticized response to the disappearance of flight MH370, the beleaguered carrier has been quick to relay updates, including on its social channels. Earlier today on Facebook, Malaysia Airlines fought back against rumors that it defied advisories against flying over Ukraine, noting that MH17’s flight plan was approved by Eurocontrol.
The carrier’s latest tragedy comes amid plans to bring on PR support in response to a likely restructuring following the loss of MH370 and the airline's declining financial condition.
The Holmes Report understands this brief has already been received by several agencies in Asia. The tender comes after senior comms figures from Malaysia Airlines met with agencies in Singapore to discuss the potential PR issues that could result from an overhaul.