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British Petroleum S PR Responses During the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil SpillResearch Paper

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Public Relations Practices at British Petroleum

Public relations practices are essential aspects success in any organization, whether profit-making or non-profit. BP Plc. occurs as one of the leading oil and gas companies globally. The company explores oil and natural gas in about 30 countries worldwide. It is estimated that BP possesses 18.1 billion oil barrels. Additionally, it processes about 4 million barrels of oil on a daily basis through its 16 refineries (Wolf & Mejri, 2012). The expanded market reach of the company depicts her magnitude and impact on the global economy. In 2010, the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, brought into limelight the shortcomings of the company resulting in the oil spill catastrophe. The oil spill, caused by an explosion, led to the death of eleven people and considerable damages in the U.S.

As a result, BP's public relations segment has come out strongly to facilitate the mitigation of this crisis. In this paper, we analyze the public relations practices of BP regarding reactions to the oil spill scandal, adaptation to the social media platforms in the 21st century, and utilization of PR in creating a brand and influencing public opinion. Further, we compare the PR campaigns of BP and the American Red Cross.

Analyze how the organization used public relations to create a brand and influence public opinion.

BP, formerly referred to British has capitalized on public relations in the creation of a global brand to influence public opinion. In 1998, British Petroleum announced its merger with American oil giant for $48.2 billion (Ibrahim, 1998). After the acquisition, BP engaged in an aggressive rebranding strategy that included changing its name from British Petroleum to BP and redesign of its logo. Further, the company launched a campaign strategy declaring it move 'beyond petroleum.' Its reposition strategy depicted the move from the traditional oil company in becoming the new energy company. In this new economic venture, BP promised to venture into other energy sectors other than oil, for example, natural gas exploration. A survey of the company's employees on the internal branding strategy indicated that seventy-six percent of its employees were for the new brand. Ninety percent concurred that BP was taking the right direction whereas eighty percent were aware of the new brand messages in the rebranding move (Mitchell, 2002).

After the AMOCO acquisition, BP planned to spend $100 million a year in developing the 'beyond petroleum' brand change in a move to tap into the energy market. Other acquisitions made by the company include Arco and Burmah Castro. Rebranding strategy also involved modernization of the company's 28,000 petroleum stations spread all over the globe. Expansion of BP's brand explored other retail areas beyond the traditional energy fields (Macalister & Cross, 2000). The unveiling of the BP Connect stores features e-kiosks that give customers an opportunity to check weather and traffic conditions. Additionally, the stores give customers the chance to call up directions to local destinations. In the new rebranding strategies, motorists have the opportunity to utilize the touch-screen monitor preferred snacks and sandwiches.

BP has reiterated its commitment to renewable energy through the utilization of solar energy in powering new sites. Green energy initiatives the installation of solar panels that form a transparent canopy above the pumps. From 2006, BP has invested approximately $3 billion in research, development, and operation in the biofuels segment in the response to the surging energy demands. The worldwide call for the reduction of greenhouse energy emissions from transport fuels has accelerated BP's move in investing in green energy to suffice increasing energy demands. Initiatives in biofuels investment include BP's focus on the production of ethanol from sugarcane grown in Brazil. BP has invested in various wind projects in the U.S. with over 16 operational wind farms spread across nine states including Colorado, South Dakota, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania among others. Energy tapped from wind projects can power about 775,000 average American homes.

The introduction of the state of the art retailing stores and commitment to green energy initiatives have portrayed BP's move in establishing a global brand that consequently brings in a significant surge in sales and market reach. The company reiterated its commitment to strengthening the company's sense of common purpose and identity. With over 100,000 employees spread over 100 countries, BP has not halted the recruitment exercise despite the declining employment rates in Britain and the U.S. (Macalister & Cross, 2000).

Assess how is the selected organization is adapting to the social media sites and other venues in the 21st century.

Social media platforms have increasingly played a vital role in crisis communication due to the rapid adoption of technology globally. In the 21st century, social media has become an inevitable platform that all organizations require utilizing in adapting to the technological changes. Popular social sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and Flickr have enabled organizations to communicate to the public in a relatively less costly approach compared to other communication channels. BP has endeavored to utilize social media platforms as a social branding strategy in communicating with the public. Since 2000, social media has increasingly established a substantial grip in the communication channels by various companies in airing out their standings, views, and opinions on various subjects and issues of public concern. BP has capitalized on social media platforms in communication to the public. During 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP engaged social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr in communicating to the public on the proceedings following the damage. BP set up social media accounts that depicted pictures and company's statement on remedying plans. YouTube also came in handy as the press releases by the management were posted in this video channel for public view. BP has depicted a swift shift in adopting social media platforms as communication channels. Today, most of the company's projects and events are posted in most of its social media platforms.

The 2010's Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster depicted the significance of social media platforms in public response towards events such as the oil spill. Critics of BP's aggressiveness in dealing with the situation expressed dissatisfaction in the manner BP dealt with the situation. Many civil, environmental, and government entities cried foul regarding this matter with backup from a section of the public. Despite the criticism, BP managed to utilize these social sites in communicating the company's stand on this matter effectively.

Identify a crisis that the organization has faced or is facing and analyze how it was or is being handled by the organization.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill that happened in April 2010 occurred as the most devastating oil spill in U.S. history. An explosion and fire led to the oil spillage approximately 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Besides the eleven people who died because of the explosion, a considerable amount of damage occurred from the disaster, bringing heightened environmental and economic concerns. Close to 185-205 a million gallons of crude oil poured into the Gulf. Devastating impacts of the spillage spread to killing and endangering marine life, tourism, and fishing industries. The losses recorded by the catastrophic event amounted to billions of dollars. As a result, the company faced two significant challenges including the biggest oil spillage in U.S. history and financial losses. The company's reputation was also at stake given the magnitude of oil spillage and the consequent damages. At the London Stock Exchange, BP share price fell 7% less to its lowest level in June, a similar share price 14 years before. Later in July, BP's stock valuation fell from $182 billion to $89 billion. Additionally, the company suffered a dramatic collapse of reputation globally (Reed & Krauss, 2015).

BP put in substantial effort to address the spillage oil crisis, regarding the best approach towards recouping the dwindling reputation rates globally. The company set in place various communication strategies aimed at alleviating the growing challenges. Rather than taking direct responsibility of the spillage, BP played a blame game in the press releases and communication released to the public in response to the spillage. Communications from the company endeavored to assure the public of BP's full commitment to honoring legitimate claims for those that directly suffered the accident. Additionally, BP released detailed information on the steps if endeavored to take in stopping the flow of oil and other rectification measures. In the wake of this catastrophe, BP suffered a significant PR crisis. The challenges and setbacks encountered in addressing this crisis pointed to BP's inability to remedy the crisis effectively. Critics lamented the failure by BP in doing enough to deal with the crisis.

The period that the oil spill occurred, social media had acquired a significant grip in facilitating conveyance of conversations to different forums. By 2000, social media started depicting a significant relevance as a mode of communication. Government entities and critics drawn from different sides of the divide have reiterated on the failure by BP in portraying an effective crisis communication strategy. For example,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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