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The short essay has discussed the incidence in which the BP Oil Company suffered a disastrous oil spill. This incident has been reviewed for its effects on public image and also how the efficiency of BP's Public Relations, Crisis Management and Corporate Advertising departments faced the challenge during the disaster. The essay focuses primarily on how the disaster, and its effect on public image, interrelated with the disciplines of organizational management, corporate communication, corporate advertising and public relations.
As it emerges from the discussion, BP's response is indicative of poor crisis preparedness and management. The paper concludes that the damages caused by the spill were blamed entirely on the company's negligence, thus leaving BP's image tattered and negatively criticized. People have lost the confidence they once had in the safety of their lives and the environment especially those communities neighboring BP's operation areas. While the crisis completely overloaded the company's public relations department, the PR office and the Crisis Management Team did a commendable job under the circumstances.
It is thus recommended that BP holds full responsibility of their operations, especially when such may affect the livelihoods of others and the environment. This calls for stringent precautionary measures and a search for highly skilled expertise. Further, data provided during crisis should always be entrusted to skilled professionals who can insist on accuracy.
In this short essay, the incidence in which the BP Oil Company suffered a disastrous oil spill is reviewed for its effects on public image. Of importance to the essay is the research question, 'how the disaster and its effect on public image, interrelate with the disciplines of organizational management, corporate communication, corporate advertising and public relations, especially in regards to disaster management and corporate responsibility?'.
BP Oil Company is an International Oil Company headquartered at London and with oil-related operations all over the globe (Richard, 2010). The company deals with extraction, processing and selling of oil (petroleum) products. The company has been operational for many decades now, and in this time, it has secured a solid public image recognized and famed all over the world (Hurt, 2010). This has given the company an impressive market presence, boosted by its impressive corporate responsibility on a worldwide scale (Hurt, 2010).
BP has in the past impressively managed to maintain its positively reputed public image through corporate responsibility involvement, equitable employment opportunities, socially supportive programs to many communities, especially where in areas hosting its extraction activities (Hurt, 2010; Seitel, 2007). Notably, in this age of the pro-green revolution, BP has changed its logo and corporate theme to the green color. Evidently, BP has always tried to improve its public image by claiming to damage the environment lesser and lesser (Richard, 2010).
However, as bad luck would have it, on April 2010, one of BP's deep sea oil well blew up and spilled gallons of oil onto the Gulf of Mexico. This incident has had many serious economic and environmental effects, but more importantly, it has been the single greatest threat to BP's public image and corporate reputation in decades (Richard, 2010). Millions of Gallons of oil uncontrollably escaped from the well and mixed with the ocean water for months before any solutions could be effected (Richard, 2010). This floating spill later extended to the USA shore and further threatened the sea life and the million-dollar marine-food industry that supported thousands of livelihoods along the Gulf Coast (Richard, 2010). It was evident that by July, BP's corporate image had been irreparably tarnished, especially in North America, to the extents that it became a political nightmare for many of the region's leaders (Richard, 2010).
The following findings have been accumulated from document analysis of the relevant literature. On April 2010, the BP owned under sea oil well exploded killing eleven engineers instantly. The world turned its attention to BP and an increasing wave of criticism begun (Hurt, 2010). From fishermen to communities, from companies to local authorities, from national to international leaders, from economists to environmentalists, everyone felt angry at BP (Hurt, 2010). However, the single greatest negative acclaim arose from environmentalist quarters, concerned about the Gulf Coast (Hurt, 2010). It was a crisis that BP's disaster management team found themselves embroiled in and besides the need to seal the leak, had to deal with a global outcry and public criticism (Hurt, 2010).
The media and the public emphasized the impacts of the spill to the extent that BP oil spill has been termed as the biggest nonpolitical media story in deceased. From the literature review of the researcher, it was evident that BP's Public Relations and Crisis Management Team did an impressive job given the circumstances over the three-month period (Seitel, 2007).
At present, BP is working towards repairing its public image, by compensating people with most notable damages, making deals with affected companies, investing in environmental cleanup, and moderating an economic and environmental recovery after the damaging oil spill (Richard, 2010). So far, volunteers have emerged to help the company both skilled and unskilled in the cleanup process (Richard, 2010). People are inclined to consider the negative effects to the environment and livelihoods affected by the spill and think ill towards BP henceforth (Richard, 2010). BP Oil Company faces great challenges in convincing the world that it is still the clean and green as it has been advertising for decades (Hurt, 2010).
The BP oil extractions works were outsourced to smaller companies, mainly specializing in extraction contracts. The companies blamed each other after the tragedy because the outsourced company lost many engineers after the explosion. This should not happen because all companies had similar goals i.e. to extract oil from the undersea oil well but the BP Company had failed to provide accurate extraction data for the outsourced company resulting to death of extraction engineers and oil spill which was a threat to fisheries, companies, environment and livelihoods (Richard, 2010).
The BP Company failed to provide the outsourced company with proper supervision and guidance to avoid any accidents (James, 2007). The BP Company was supposed to provide enough support engineers who had a clear understanding of the design and extraction plan to assist the outsourced company's engineers perform a quality service. The local authorities and governments affected by the oil spill did not offer their support for the cleanup process. They started claiming for compensation for the victims and the environment damaged by the oil spill, instead (Hurt, 2010).
Having established the foregoing issues, there are several points upon which to arrive at a conclusion. First, the authorities concerned with the environment and economic matters, especially in regards to the livelihoods dependent on the Mexican Gulf, have raised doubts about BP's capabilities to control such a disaster in case it happens again. The company failed to give workable estimates of what was to be done and how much the extent of damage would be. Scientists hired to survey the well spill were unable to give the approximate amount of spill. Cleanup teams thus worked with the wrong data and this resulted to unsatisfying results. This is indicative of poor crisis preparedness and management at BP (James, 2007).
Secondly, the damages caused by the spill were blamed entirely on the company's negligence (Hurt, 2010). BP's image is at the moment, tattered despite the belated seal of the spill that was consolidated last month. People have lost the confidence they once had in the safety of their lives and the environment especially those communities neighboring BP's operation areas. Thirdly, BP received a lot of pressure from local and national governments affected by the spill and deadlines were issued through the media (Seitel, 2007). This overloaded the company's public relations department with explanations to the people affected, environmental activists and the public at large, especially critical, due to the uncertain circumstances surrounding the disaster (James, 2007). Nonetheless, the PR office and the Crisis Management Team did a commendable job under the circumstances.
The BP Company and any other companies holding such responsibilities that may affect the livelihoods of others and also the environment should always take the full length precautionary measures and employ the most highly skilled expertise. This would avoid the chances of any loss of lives or destruction of the environment. Companies such as BP Oil Company have the ability to, and should hire the best scientists and engineers for such high profile jobs and also to put in place the best rescue and recovery support in preparedness for such tragedies.
In case of any accidental tragedy, proper investigation by again, most highly skilled professionals should be employed to ensure proper assessment and data is provided to the support team so as to be able to counter the problem more accurately. Data provided to the workers and support teams should be collected and analyzed properly by well skilled professionals to avoid any delays when trying to save or give support when a tragedy occurs (James, 2007).
Outsourced manpower should be fully supervised by the project designers and be issued with clear guidance from the project supervisor of the outsourcing company. The company outsourcing should involve the contractors' engineers in the design of the project or provide the company's engineers to project for proper supervision. Full precautionary measures and rescue plans should be put in place as insurance of safety for workers, environment and communities around (James, 2007).