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Chilean rescue: great crisis management and an element of good fortune

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By Jonathan Hemus | Columnist

October 15, 2010 | 2 min read

We’ve all been glued to our TV sets as one by one, the Chilean miners have emerged from the darkness. This has been a human crisis played out in front of the world’s media. So was the BP oil spill: so why have perceptions of the Chilean crisis been so different from those attached to BP?

Firstly, Chile’s crisis management approach has been much more effective. Key elements have included regular and open communication, successful management of expectations (out by Christmas?) and visible leadership from the President downwards. So could BP have applied the same principles and emerged less damaged? No chance. And here’s why.

Whilst both events centred on human interest, the essence of the media story was different. BP’s situation was about a nasty oil company killing people, destroying the environment and putting people out of work. Chile’s was about the human spirit and the heroic endeavours of resuers to bring the miners out alive.

BP’s crisis impacted many more external stakeholders than the mine collapse and as such invited greater comment and criticism. More than that, its crisis was very public in the form of shooting flames, oily waters and dying birds. Chile’s crisis was contained underground.

A number of stakeholders in Chile - the mine owner, the government, the President – have been extremely lucky that all attention has been focused on the wonderful story of the rescue. Had eleven people died, as in BP’s case, examination of safety standards and working practices could have been just as damaging as they were for BP. And their crisis communication challenge would have been much, much tougher.

Further thoughts on this topic in my own blog:

http://insigniatalks.com/2010/10/chile-and-bp-altogether-different-crisis-management-challenges/

Jonathan Hemus

www.insigniacomms.com

Bp BP Oil Spill Communications

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