Blogging about the Costa Concordia

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For writers, a “hook” is something that grabs the reader. It’s also something you can hang a blog post, book, or article on. Important news events can be great hooks for your blog posts.

When the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground, news outlets around the world filled up with stories and analysis of the disaster. Here are three “leadership” blogs that used the disaster as the starting point for posts. All these posts have the same starting point, but each blogger shares a unique perspective.

From Tanveer Naseer: 3 Leadership Lessons to Keep Your Organization from Running Aground
“As a leader, one thing you must be vigilant about is keeping an eye out for any process or culture creep which might lead to complacency or a disconnect with the present-day realities found just outside your office walls. While there are many examples in today’s headlines of organizations which have drifted so far off-course that it’s hard to see a viable turnaround in their near future, few illustrate the risks and fallout from such situations as the ensuing drama around the capsizing of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy.

From Jesse Lyn Stoner: Lessons from the Costa Concordia: A Case for Company Values
“The events before, during and after the January 13 tragedy aboard the Costa Concordia point to a true failure of leadership at every level, from the captain who ran the luxury liner aground during a drive by “salute” off the island of Isola del Giglio to the chief executive Pier Luigi Foschi who denies any responsibility. Two days ago Foschi told a newspaper they were unaware of this practice.”

From Scott Eblin: Early Contender for Worst Leader of 2012
“Based on the observable evidence, passenger accounts, his own statements and audio transcripts with an Italian coast guard officer, it sure looks like Capt. Francesco Schettino is a very strong early contender for worst leader of 2012. By now you’ve probably seen the pictures and read the stories of the tragedy with the Costa Concordia cruise ship just off the Italian coast. The Captain ordered the early evening maritime equivalent of a fly-by just a few hundred yards from the coast to impress the citizens of a local town.  The ship hit a rock which tore a gash in the hull and within an hour it was laying on its side.  It took him an hour to send a Mayday signal and when the authorities called him after hearing from panicked passengers, he denied anything was wrong. Dozens of passengers either died or are still missing.”

And now for something very different. The following post is not from the world of leadership bloggers. The writer is James Hamilton. James is an engineer and a Vice President and Distinguished Engineer on the Amazon Web Services team. He also lives on a boat, sails, and analyzes disasters for fun. Here’s what he posted, starting from the same news item as the three blogs above.

From James Hamilton: Studying the Costa Concordia Grounding
“‘Don’t be a show-off. Never be too proud to turn back. There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.’ I first heard the latter part of this famous quote made by US Airmail Pilot E. Hamilton Lee back when I raced cars. At that time, one of the better drivers in town, Gordon Monroe, used a variant of that quote (with pilots replaced by racers) when giving me driving advice. Gord’s basic message was that it is impossible to win a race if you crash out of it.”

Bottom Line

News events can be an effective starting point for a powerful post, but that post should be driven by your passion and deliver a message to your readers.

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Jesse Stoner   |   03 Feb 2012   |   Reply

Your observations from a writing perspective are very interesting. You pull us out of the surface content to look at what are the deeper messages that drive us in our writing. It was interesting to me also to see how similar and yet personally unique each of our posts were. Your excellent advice is clearly demonstrated by these 3 examples. You also remind me not to shy away from writing about a topic that others have addressed, if you bring your own voice and passion to your writing.

Wally   |   03 Feb 2012   |   Reply

Thanks for the kind words, Jesse. I think that all good bloggers write about something they’re passionate about from their unique perspective. But I think there’s one more thing. Effective bloggers write something of value to the reader. They may teach or inspire or provoke or prod, but there has to be an affect out in the world or blog posting is just an intellectual exercise.