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Sunday, December 17, 2017

The industry needs to deliver – and be seen to deliver

Maybe nothing much new was said. But BBC presenter Libby Purves brought a breath of fresh air into the issue of the shipping industry’s image this week at the session on “Image” at Seatrade’s London International Maritime Convention, chaired by IMO Secretary-General Thimio Mitropoulos. The industry should be offering a counterweight to accidents, she said. Even though our culture and language is shot through with the sea, people are not aware of the shipping industry. 

She compared U.S. presidents who pay homage to their country’s glorious past by doing photo opportunities in the Wild West, with U.K. politicians who rarely, if ever, pay homage to their country’s glorious maritime past by associating themselves with the sea. It’s a mistake to keep to low a profile, she advised, adding that “You have to believe you’re interesting,” in order for others to find you interesting. 

Another objective view was given by Member of Parliament James Gray who urged the industry to stop talking to itself about the industry’s image and concentrate on appreciating how others see us. We need to get outside, he said, and tell people of the tremendous work we are doing. Why does it matter? he asked. Because we live in a regulatory society which, unless it believes in the industry, will regulate it until it is overcome. And because a shipping disaster seen on the television screen just goes to prove a layman’s negative viewpoint about shipping, rather than being treated as an unfortunate exception to the rule.  

Some good advice also came from inside the industry. Richard Everitt, Chief Executive of the Port of London Authority, remarked that good image is only achieved by a consistently high standard of performance. “The industry needs to deliver – and to be seen to deliver.” 

One key message that came out of the session was that all in the shipping industry need to focus on having a positive attitude to the industry as they go about doing their job, bringing a sense of pride and value. 

Contact: Bill Box