On April 20, 2010, in the Macondo Prospect oil field about 40 miles (60 km) southeast of the Louisiana coast where the *British Petroleum* *BP* hired Transocean to drill for oil on it behalf an explosion occurred.
The explosion killed 11 workers and injured 17 others. The explosion caused the Deepwater Horizon to burn and sink. The same blowout that caused the explosion also caused a massive offshore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the world, and the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Facing the US Commission of enquiry BP CEO, Tony Hayward blamed Transocean for the accident and Transocean also pointed accusing finger at BP.
BP faced massive criticism that battered their reputation so much that the board of BP had to sack Tony Hayward in less than 3 month after the accident.
Whenever a crisis occur the next thing should be *damage control* not blame game. The people can forgive mistake but they will never forgive irresponsibility.
Here are 5 Commandments of Damage Control
I. *Full Disclosure*
Everything that can come out, will come out. All too often it’s the drip, drip, drip that causes most of the lasting damage because it leads to suspicions and reporter digging around. Observe the 3T rule.
a. Tell it now
b. Tell it all
c. Tell at once.
If you don't use the *The first mover advantage* others will define your crisis for you.
This is why Abraham Lincoln said, " I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts".
II. *Speak to Your Core Audience*
Determine and quickly engage your the key Stakeholders. Ask yourself *what will responsible people expect a responsible individual/organization to do in this circumstances?*
III. *Don’t Feed the Fire*
Keep your calm, don't lose your cool not even in the face of media attack.
It’s human nature to succumb to the pressures of the moment that push you into making the situation worse. Resist that pull.
IV. *Get Ready For the Crash*
Be prepared with detailed answers to tough questions. The smallest discrepancy can get magnified into the biggest problem.
This is more reason why
a. You should have an effective and comprehensive crisis management plan before hand.
b. You should have a sound media training.
c. Your PR firm must be proactive to have in place *MPSCC* (Media Mapping for Strategic Crisis Communication)
V. *Act Responsibly*
Ensure that you take purposeful actions towards resolving the crisis as most importantly get the right message out about what you are doing. And most importantly you must ensure the audience are actually hearing what you want them to hear and not what they think you said.
Your message must be
Throughout the period of the crisis.
Take the advice of Theodore Roosevelt,
"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing"
*A crisis can either be a problem or an opportunity*.
*Crisis is inevitable, it is always what you do next that determines whether it becomes a problem or an opportunity*.
John F. Kennedy observed that When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
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Ishola Ayodele is a Public Relations practitioner and a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations.
He offers the following services to Large Corporations, SMEs and Individuals.
Result Oriented Communication,
Effective Crisis Communication,
Effectual Political Communication,
Reputation and Image management,
And Impactful Presentation Coaching.
He can be reached on
twitter @ishopr and via