This challenge is due at 6 p.m. Monday, March 11.


This challenge asks you to evaluate how Twitter was used in a public relations crisis and seek out journalists on Twitter.


There are two parts to this challenge

1. Evaluate how Twitter was used in a PR crisis

Background: On Feb. 10, a fire in the engine room knocked out the power on the Carnival Triumph, a cruise ship carrying more than 4,000 passengers, leaving the ship adrift for five days in the Gulf of Mexico. Air conditioning and most of the toilets on board stopped working. Raw sewage seeped into the rooms and hallways. The ship was finally towed to Mobile, Alabama, where it docked on Feb. 14.

Here’s a news report in which passengers describe the ordeal:

This nightmare cruise became a PR nightmare for Carnival Cruise Line. One Twitter user summed it up well:

Here’s your task:

Go to Carnival Cruise Line’s main Twitter account: @CarnivalCruise. Read the tweets that Carnival posted about the crisis Feb. 10-15. Be sure to scroll down to see all of the tweets. Also, be sure to click “Expand” for each tweet to see the full conversations (including other Twitter users’ replies).

Of course, Twitter was only one part of Carnival’s crisis response. The company also used other social media and traditional media. But for purposes of this assignment, focus only on Twitter.

Give your assessment of Carnival’s usage of Twitter as a crisis management tool. Do you believe Carnival used Twitter effectively and appropriately? The answer is probably not a simple yes or no; you might argue that there were both positives and negatives. Be specific. Cite individual tweets to support your arguments. Some things you might want to consider are the quantity, quality, and timeliness of the tweets; the tone of the tweets; Carnival’s candor and honesty (or lack of candor and honesty); and Carnival’s engagement and interaction (or lack of engagement and interaction) with other Twitter users. Feel free to suggest ways that Carnival might have done things better or differently.

2. Seeking out journalists on Twitter

The next part of this challenge asks you to assume the role of a PR spokesperson and identify journalists on Twitter that you would pitch.

Assume you’re a PR spokesperson representing Carnival. Assume that the cruise line has developed a comprehensive plan to rebuild its image by compensating passengers of the ill-fated cruise, investigating the incident, and improving the on-board safety of its cruise ships. As the PR spokesperson, you want to get the message out to members of the news media in the hopes that they will publish or broadcast positive stories. But which specific journalists will you target?

Use the Muck Rack site to find journalists on Twitter. Here’s the link to all of the media outlets on Muck Rack. Click on the name of a news outlet. Then, on the next page, click the “People” link near the top to see a list of all journalists on Twitter from that news outlet. In the left column, you will see a list of “beats” (topic areas) covered by that news outlet. Clicking on a particular beat will give you the names of the reporters or editors who cover that beat. Clicking on the name of a journalist will bring up a page for that journalist. Look for the little Twitter icon (the blue “t”) on the left-hand side to go to the journalist’s Twitter page.

Find four journalists, each from a different news outlet, who would be good targets for your news about Carnival Cruises. Some tips for finding journalists: Obviously, most journalists won’t be interested. The City Hall reporter or the high school sports reporter for the Podunk Gazette isn’t going to care about cruise ship news. The top editors (with titles like “executive editor” or “managing editor”) won’t be interested because they don’t do the actual reporting. The key is to focus on large news outlets that have reporters, editors, or bloggers devoted to a beat that would include cruise ship vacations (What do you suppose that beat would be?). If it helps, here’s a list of the largest U.S. media outlets. The four journalists you target should be journalists who are fairly active on Twitter.

For each of the four journalists, list their name, their Twitter “handle,” their position or job description, and the name of their news outlet, based on the Muck Rack listing and/or their Twitter bio. (For example, “John Doe, @JDoe, maritime reporter, The Florida Gazette).

Submitting the assignment

Type your answers (for both parts) into a Microsoft Word file. Send the file as an attachment in an email to no later than 6 p.m. Monday, March 11.


This challenge is worth 20 points:

  • Evaluating Carnival’s PR response (12 pts.): How thorough and thoughtful was your evaluation of Carnival’s usage of Twitter as a crisis management tool? Also, did you support your arguments by citing specific tweets?
  • Identifying journalists (8 pts.): Did you identify four journalists who would be good targets for news about Carnival cruises? Journalists who would actually write or edit stories about the cruise ship industry?

One response

  1. […] identifying four journalists on Twitter who would be good targets for Carnival to pitch. See the blog post for more details. Submit the assignment as a Word attachment (no blog post this time) in an email […]