Monday, June 07, 2010

Crisis Planning: A Government Mandate?

I said it in my last blog, and I say it again, how does a company that drills for oil, such as BP, not have a crisis plan? And why would our government permit oil, chemical, mining or other similar companies to operate without one? At a minimum, government regulations should require such a plan before permitting operations in this country.

BP CEO Tony Hayward, in an interview in the Financial Times, noted: “What is undoubtedly true is that we did not have the tools you would want in your tool kit” – a blatant admission that BP lacked the plan and the wherewithal to act when the crisis occurred. At least he told the truth, in contrast to BP’s playing down the size of the spill and the environmental damage that occurred.

What should be in a crisis plan? First and foremost, a range of scenarios that could occur and how to respond to each of them; and the response must be put to paper in detail—step by step—so that there is no hesitation to act and act quickly. This forces a company to gather, in advance, the tools needed to clean up any mess created. Further, each scenario must be acted out and people must be trained to solve the problem. All the relevant people and their contact information at any time of day must also be included in the written plan, which is circulated to all concerned.

To keep a crisis plan up to date, companies should have periodic meetings to examine where they are vulnerable, and whether they are equipped to deal with changes as they occur. Scenarios should be ranked in terms of their probability and importance.

It is possible that if the right precautions had been taken, BP’s CEO wouldn’t have had to worry about apologizing to the families of the 11 men who died on the rig for having callously said in another context, “You know, I’d like my life back (from all the hassle).”

Technorati Tags: BP Global, BP plc, oil spill, Minerals Management Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, offshore drilling, Gulf of Mexico, crisis, communications, public relations, Makovsky


Blogger Unknown said...

I wholeheartedly agree. By the way, there was an interesting discussion on This Week (ABC-TV) yesterday morning with George Will, Arianna Huffington and Liz Cheney about the PR handling of the disaster. Specifically, these folks were providing their reaction to the new BP ad about their commitment to corporate responsiblity. I found myself agreeing with (of all peole) Liz Cheney, who said skip the ads, BP should be holding daily press briefings telling people what they accomplished during the day and what their plan is for the next day. That kind of open communication seems to make the most sense to me. All we have been getting are Tony Haywood missteps and corrections, and Obama ventings. Waste of valuable time and resources.
Best regards -- Lee Davies

Monday, June 07, 2010 4:21:00 PM  

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