World Maritime Day ‘themejacking’ – what to avoid

This year the maritime community celebrates women – with IMO’s World Maritime Day theme for 2019: Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.

With the spotlight on women in maritime, we have seen many companies (maritime and non-maritime alike), over the last few months, come forth to show support for this celebratory movement and there are others leveraging on this through ‘themejacking’ – similar to an existing idea, newsjacking.

Newsjacking is where a company captures views to its content by responding to a breaking or current piece of news. For ‘themejacking’, instead of news, it responds to a current theme – in this case, the World Maritime Day theme.

But the problem comes when ‘themejacking’ when executed in poor taste, comes across as opportunistic and potentially hurts the company’s brand reputation.

The maritime industry as we know has always been (heavily) male dominated and therefore campaigning for gender equality in such a setting becomes tricky and requires careful planning.

  1. Avoid sensational (Read: gender insensitive) headlines

Seems pretty obvious (duh!) but believe us, as shipping PR professionals, we have come across a tad too many companies guilty of this.

For example, a recruitment firm’s take on the lack of skills and talents of outstanding women in the maritime industry received some flak from the industry’s stakeholders and ruffled some (male) feathers despite the writer’s true portrayal of the issues looming the industry.

Some PR experts argue that bad publicity is still publicity but, in this case, we think such (negative) publicity is unnecessary and is best avoided.

  1. Avoid gender qualification

We know the struggle all too well – of grabbing a journalist’s attention with a standout and newsworthy press release headline. And in line with the World Maritime Day theme, we have seen several new maritime hires and appointments emphasizing on the female gender i.e. “First female appointed as…”.

No doubt it is attention-grabbing (it sure did grab ours!) and while it reflects that change is finally taking place, in our opinion, such gender qualification lacked solidarity for gender equality.

  1. Don’t forget the male alpha!

 Yes ladies, this is our year but never forget to acknowledge and applaud the male alphas who have supported and believed in us through our good and tough times throughout our maritime careers.

The maritime workforce, like any other workforce should no longer be associated to a specific gender. We should strive to be a workforce/community transcending gender, nationality, race or religion.

Happy World Maritime Day to one and all in the maritime community!

Photo credit to Wallem Shipping

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Lai Jue Hao

Associate
Author