I was featured in an article that ran in the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper where I shared my thoughts and insights on BP’s recent public relations push to issue an apology through an advertising campaign for the largest oil spill in U.S. history. I also expressed the importance of making sure that your business has a communications plan in place for a crisis.
It’s evident that in creating its TV ads, BP was following the often-successful crisis playbook by casting its CEO as the face of the crisis. However, BP’s apologetic ad campaign failed to shift focus away from criticism of the company and missed the opportunity to relay pertinent information about their cleanup strategy.
There are some key elements that I feel should be included in a crisis communication plan to make it successful. Those include:
- Responding immediately through a public statement. If you don’t comment on the crisis, others will. You run the risk of their message(s) being heard over yours.
- Apologizing publicly and taking responsibility for your organization's actions and/or failures.
- Discussing your resolve to fix the situation and sharing a concrete plan for what you plan to do next.
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