Bp BP Oil Spill Crisis Pr

Crisis communication hall of shame must act as warning to others


By Jonathan Hemus | Columnist

February 1, 2011 | 2 min read

This week, the Holmes Report revealed a league table that no PR professional wants to be part of: the top ten crises of 2010. There are few surprises: BP, Wikileaks and BAA all feature.

This hall of shame coincided with further news coverage about two of its members, BP and Toyota. BP’s announcement of its record financial losses provided the media with a new opportunity to rake over last year’s oil spill. And when Toyota announced another global recall, its problems of last year meant more coverage than would normally be the case. This was compounded when Bloomberg revealed that the value of Toyota’s brand had declined by more than $25 billion in the last year. Both incidents highlight the long term financial and reputational damage of mis-handled crises.

Enter the media spotlight for the wrong reasons and you lose control of the light switch. That’s why the best form of reputation protection is to prevent the crisis in the first place. PR people can play a key role in this endeavour by acting as guardian of the brand and playing devil’s advocate. Spotting when a businessess’s actions are diverging from its brand values and being brave enough to point this out to senior management is essential to reduce the potential for reputational harm.

Of course, senior management may choose to ignore this advice. but then we all have a choice of what to do next, don’t we?

Jonathan Hemus


Bp BP Oil Spill Crisis Pr

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