Crisis communications strategy essential for oil and gas companies

Vilified in the public and political spheres following disasters such as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year, oil and gas companies must anticipate potential crises and have a communications response plan in place.

According to Mickey Driver, External Relations Advisor, Cheveron USA Inc, if a company values its reputation, it is extremely important to pre-empt potential disasters. 

Driver is a speaker at the marcus evans Crisis Communications in Oil and Gas event taking place on May 18-19, in Houston.

“The news media more often than not likes to point out what is wrong with our industry. To them, an incident is just another proof point that the oil and gas industry doesn’t care about the environment or anything except making money. 

“Having a communications response plan in place allows quick and focused communications to try and shape the story, no matter what has happened. There is a need to quickly get your messages on being responsible and proactive to the media, and thus to your key audiences. A well developed and tested communication response plan helps you achieve that goal,” he explains.

New challenges are presented in the advent of 24/7 media and the need for an instant response, he adds.

“The big challenge is to stay ahead of the news with key messages on your response and actions. Anyone with a cell phone camera can post pictures, audio, video and comments on the web. Monitoring what is being said about you, and challenging it if it is wrong helps keep the story balanced. 

“Reporters today are assigned to instantly post stories or comments to their online venues. Your response plans should include the ability to quickly get your message out. This is important because you don’t want the story to get away from you. Even when you don’t have all the details, you should talk about what you do know, and that is you work for a responsible company that is responding and working on the incident.”

The marcus evans Crisis Communications in Oil and Gas event will take place in May 18-19, in Houston, TX.