5 of BP’s biggest Gulf oil spill PR blunders

The company has finally reached a settlement with Gulf coast states, five years after the Deepwater Horizon spill, but will its reputation ever recover?

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The US Attorney General has said that the sum agreed, an eye-watering $18.7 billion, is the largest to be paid by a single company in U.S. history.

Never mind the cost in financial terms, though: Will BP ever truly recover the cost it caused to itself in terms of its questionable PR handling? For years, pundits and college lecturers have been citing the poor public relations management in the face of the Deep Water crisis as a textbook “how not to do it.”

Remember those comments from the disgruntled CEO who said: “I’d like my life back”?

Here’s five ways in which BP got it so wrong, and what can be learned from those mistakes:

1. Failure to prepare.

One of the comments made many times by analysts was how little the company seemed to be geared up to handle a crisis of this nature.

Given the type of industry, one would have thought that even the simplest analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats would have pointed to this such disaster as a possible scenario, around which the comms team should have always been prepared to respond.

However big your company, knowing your areas of crisis susceptibility is vital.

2. Manipulation (or lack of true knowledge) of the facts.

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