How not to handle a crisis

When crisis strikes it's easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily there's plenty we can learn from other people's mistakes.

by Stephen Jones

What do you say when you’re hauled in front of TV cameras in the wake of an explosion that has left 11 rig workers dead and 19,000 gallons of oil a day pouring into the Gulf of Mexico? As the then BP CEO Tony Hayward found out following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon, it’s probably not ‘I want my life back’.

Although Hayward would later apologise for his ‘hurtful and thoughtless comment’ - just over a month later and after much public rebuke - the damage had been done. It probably didn’t help that during other media appearances he also used the words ‘tiny’ and ‘modest’ to describe the biggest oil spill in US history.

Due to the nature of modern newsgathering, we tend to hear more about when a company has got it wrong, rather than when a company has got it right during a crisis. Fortunately, there’s plenty we can learn from other people’s mistakes.  

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