Crisis often leads to crisis and as BP works to cap its massive oil spill and eventually deal with brand damage, class action suits, clean up and other issues, its crisis will likely shift to a focus on U.S. regulators and the adequacy of the federal response
Ridgefield, CT (Vocus) May 28, 2010
“Crisis often leads to crisis and as BP works to cap its massive oil spill and eventually deal with brand damage, class action suits, clean up and other issues, its crisis will likely shift to a focus on U.S. regulators and the adequacy of the federal response,” according to Brian Dobson of Dobson Communications, a public relations firm in brand building and issues management.
“Our experience shows a predictable Crisis-Arc™ when crisis hits. In the case of BP, ripple effects are apt to bring scrutiny on the oil and gas industries and intense focus on regulatory agencies deemed lax in oversight and the nation’s response,” added Dobson, a former journalist who headed PR at a Fortune 50 consumer products company, where he was also a member of the crisis committee.
“Already in crisis, the Minerals Management Service bureau of the Interior Department faces overhaul as the White House characterized regulatory agency relationships as too cozy with the offshore oil industry. Public outcry also caused the White House to show more visible involvement as President Obama reassured the nation that he is in charge, not BP, in handling the spill and clean up,” said Dobson.
“Leaders should be on the scene quickly in a crisis, with calming, confident and considerate comments. BP, a global leader in the oil business, was far too slow to engage the media openly but eventually responded to public pressure to be more candid and contrite about the oil spill that began with an explosion taking 11 innocent lives and has since polluted the Gulf of Mexico and America’s shoreline,” he said.
“Now, as the spill hopefully is stopped, intense public scrutiny will likely shift to regulatory agencies considered lax and federal response that many Gulf Coast political and business leaders considered too slow,” added Dobson.
“Classic crisis PR missteps have been rampant recently. A string of crises by industry leaders, from BP’s oil spill polluting the Gulf, to Toyota recalling cars with acceleration or braking problems to Mattel’s recall of toys with leaded paint or dangerous magnets, each had slow managerial response but were followed by eventual open, candid interaction with media,” he said.
“Planning is vital, both for companies and regulatory agencies. Potential problems get identified, steps can be taken to mitigate them and management prepares to react if unforeseen crisis hits. In effective Crisis PR, it’s not enough to have manuals ready, the managerial culture has to be supportive,” said Dobson.
“DobsonPR has worked on the public relations aspects of some major company crises, and has seen that as crisis hits, others begin. It’s vital to be openly involved from the start to explain problems and discuss solutions as the media spotlight intensifies. Companies not engaging immediately will eventually have belated involvement and more criticism,” he added.
Based in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and online at http://www.DobsonPR.com, Dobson Communications managed a variety of brand building PR campaigns in sectors from toys and food to licensing and high tech, and handled PR in major crises for companies such as a tobacco firm in the UK, a Japanese pharmaceutical and nutritional products company, Japan’s then leading supplier of blood, a major US food company and others, in addition to its brand building PR. DobsonPR.com provides media training preparedness at its video studio, part of JHD-Dobson, where it also produces product and issue videos for companies. For information contact Barbara Green at 203-894-9240 or Barbara_Green(at)DobsonPR(dot)com.
© Brian Dobson 2010