Singapore: Among countless shipping PR companies Helix Media in Singapore claims it is different because of its insurance side of its business.
Ed Ion, managing partner of the firm, says shipping and insurance are intertwined.
“Like the best shipowners,” Ion says, “we understand shipping is a risk business and buying quality insurance is one good way of mitigating that risk.”
The British national says he is often asked why his company works in two seemingly different industries and attempts to be experts in both. But he doesn’t see it like that.
“The two industries are inextricably linked,” he stresses, adding: “Insurance is always one of the largest costs for an owner. To have knowledge and experience of both shipping and insurance takes a lot of education which is why our consultants come from shipping or insurance backgrounds or have received extensive on the job training in both sectors.”
Ion takes issue with the argument that shipping is by nature a secretive industry.
“Shipping gets less insular each day,” he reckons, saying that the best performers in the sector understand the need to communicate clearly and consistently with a wide range of outside interests.
“Shipping does not need to have a dialogue with the man in the street,” Ion points out, “but it does need to convey clear messages to the markets, shareholders, authorities, regulators, customers, charterers, cargo owners and so on.”
As well as straight PR, Helix Media is well known for its crisis communications acumen. Maritime CEO quizzes Ion for the briefest possible crash course for when a ship, errr, crashes.
“Define and understand your own communications objectives in a crisis,” he says, adding: “Prepare messages which convey those objectives with sympathy; have vessel and personnel information at hand; stick to facts and keep them simple; train, train some more and train again. Never say ‘No Comment’ or estimate costs; remember shipping’s timeless main objective: Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS).”
Maritime CEO, as the folk on the other side of this media tussle, can back up one of Ion’s golden rules above – never say, ‘No comment’ – red rag to a bull for any journalist worth his or her salt.
On expansion plans, Ion is coy, telling Maritime CEO he is unable to reveal the name right now, but Helix Media is about to sign a partnership agreement with a leading social media and online media monitoring company which will dramatically increase the company’s ability and its clients’ ability to track what is being said on social media/online on a global basis in real time.
“Shipping is grappling with social media now but one of the problems it faces is that even CEOs have little or no clue what is actually being said about their companies,” Ion says.
Ion, formerly with Lloyd’s List newspaper a decade back, approves of the dramatic changes in the maritime media landscape of late.
“Shipping has never been better reported or covered than today due to the changes the digital era has produced,” he says. The days of one or two elderly, corpulent shipping news organisations telling the industry what the news is and deciding the news agenda are over,” he reckons.
Today’s modern shipping executive wants a multitude of news and information sources, often in a real time and personalised manner, Ion says. “They also want the ability to be part of the conversation as opposed to being a passive news consumer, receiving wisdom from above,” he concludes. [10/03/14]