Margaret McGann

Learn from BP: how not to do crisis communications

In communications and marketing, communications plan, crisis communications, interviewing, media training, planning on June 7, 2010 at 6:38 am

The one question communicators have asked since the oil spill began is didn’t BP have risk management and crisis communications plans in place for its oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico?

It’s hard to believe that millions and millions of gallons of oil have spewed  into the Gulf since April 20 without an end date in sight. The damage to the environment, the Gulf and possibly up the Atlantic coast, the birds, ecosystem and flora,  people’s livelihoods and way of life is almost beyond comprehension. And yet, even harder to understand is how British Petroleum, a US $240 billion multinational firm, could be so utterly unprepared for this crisis.

Courtesy of BP here’s a primer of how not to do crisis communications:

Now that you have some idea of what not to do here is what you should do:

  • Have a rock solid crisis communications plan in place
  • Keep your key messages clear, concise, consistent and accurate
  • Get your facts straight — what happened, what the problem is and how it is being fixed.
  • Show genuine empathy for everyone affected and let  them know how you’ll help

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