Tuck Student Wins Top Prize in Public Relations Case Competition

For Immediate Release: April 16, 2013
Contact: Kim Keating, 603-646-2733

Tuck School of Business student Jonathan J. Gantt T’13 was awarded a top prize in the Arthur W. Page Society’s 2013 Corporate Communications Case Study Competition for his narrative of Carnival Corp.’s response to the January 2012 grounding of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the Italian coast.

Gantt finished first in the business school category of the annual competition, which was judged by senior corporate communications executives from companies including Chick-Fil-A, Inc., Entergy Corp., and General Dynamics Corp. Advising Gantt was Tuck Professor of Corporate Communications Paul Argenti.

“JJ did a great job of pulling this case together from public sources and writing a very teachable case. The Page Society’s case competition is judged by professionals and academics, so you have to write something that is both compelling and usable to win the top prize, which is not easy to do,” said Professor Argenti.

Gantt’s study focused on the decision of Carnival Corp. CEO Micky Arison to not appear in public or grant interviews in the weeks after the Costa Concordia’s partial sinking that left 32 passengers dead. It also examined Arison’s decision to delegate crisis management of the incident to a Costa Cruises executive, and Arison’s use of social media in communicating with the public in the days following the accident. Gantt’s analysis is especially timely given the spate of crises faced by Carnival Corporation in the year after the Costa Concordia incident, including the stranding of one of its ships in the Gulf of Mexico, which received widespread news coverage in the United States.

“From a business perspective, what makes this case so interesting is balancing Mr. Arison’s historical management style with the need to address and confront a crisis of a magnitude never before faced by the company,” said Gantt. “There are many lessons that can be learned from his response, or lack thereof, with regard to effective crisis management and communication.  Not the least of which is the need to have a crisis-response plan at every level of an organization, from the bridge of a ship to the offices of the C-suite.”

The Arthur W. Page Society is a membership organization for senior corporate communications executives from large corporations or public relations agencies as well as leading academics at communications and business schools. The Institute for Public Relations, which also sponsored the contest, is a nonprofit foundation that researches the teaching, practice, and social science underpinnings of public relations.

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