Sadly, it’s our last full day on the Gulf Coast. We’ve had so much fun and we’ve learned so much during our time here. At the same time, it’s nice to finally sit down and absorb everything we’ve discussed over the past few days. Our Gulf Shores beach house has become eerily quiet as all the girls hunker down in their respective corners to get work done.
Yesterday afternoon, we met with Herb Malone, the President and CEO of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. For me, he was one of the most insightful speakers in terms of communication efforts surrounding the BP Oil Spill. His job was especially challenging. He not only incited tourists to return to the Gulf Shores area, but demanded that his office be honest with the public about the reality of the spill.
In our recent meeting he outlined the communication plan formed to address the crisis. Although you can learn about the best way to handle crisis communication in class, having someone explain all the elements of their plan from the overall message, to their specific commercials, provides communications students with a real grasp of how to deal with a crisis situation.
After we left our meeting with Mr. Malone, we cooked dinner at our beachfront house, before settling down for a “class” meeting to reflect on and discuss what we had learned this week. We’ve all been so fortunate to come on this trip and learn about the worst environmental disaster to the United States. It has given all of us a first hand grasp of the magnitude of the situation and its impact not only on the region, but also on our entire country.