Preventing a crisis from tarnishing a good name and reputation is a latent concern for many companies, especially those in vulnerable industries such as the oil and gas sector.
This has been evidenced by the fallout from the Gulf of Mexico leak last year.
Withholding negative information is never the right strategy and can cause irreparable reputational damage to an organization when the truth surfaces, warns Linda Rozett, Director of Communications at the American Petroleum Institute.
Rozett will be a speaker at the marcus evans Crisis Communications in the Oil and Gas Industry Conference taking place in Houston, TX on May 18-19.
Rozett believes that proactively promoting information about your company can prove to be an important prelude if and when a crisis hits as a sense of trust and understanding has been built on the front end.
“Developing a positive proactive communications with your stakeholders is vitally important for your success and critical to dealing with any crisis that comes up.
“An important first step is creating an audience by developing a relationship with the people who care about your company and products. It’s important to develop not just outward communications but also the ability to listen to your shareholders, customers and employees. There are a lot of important audiences that might care about what your company is doing and the direction it’s taking. It’s important to be in communication with those audiences from the start.”
When responding to a crisis companies or individuals must be the expert of what’s happening, she adds.
“They must own the situation both from an incident aspect but also be the reliable and trusted source of information. Don’t dribble out facts – don’t help create an ongoing story. Do not withhold bad information. The human instinct is to withhold bad information and to tell part of the information but not all of it. It always comes out and it creates a bigger story than the crisis. Companies might have a crisis plan in place but they’re not executing it properly because human emotion is getting in the way.”
As a vulnerable industry to negative public perception due to rising fuel prices, Rozett notes that this is a unique challenge for the sector.
“Understandably when fuel prices are high people are unhappy. Gasoline is so important to our economy. The price of crude oil impacts so many other things whether it’s famers and fertilizers or businesses and feedstock etc. It’s a commodity that goes throughout the economy so it’s felt in a lot of different ways and can have a big impact on the economy overall in terms of how it’s performing when crude prices are high or low. That is something that the industry deals with in terms of public concern over gas prices or economic impacts.”
The marcus evans Crisis in the Oil and Gas Industry Conference will take place on May 18-19 in Houston, TX.
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