Tag Archives: wellhead blowout fatalities

Are two fatalities not enough to communicate about?

I noted on the American Petroleum Institute’s daily news email that a major oil company had suffered a West Texas wellhead blowout that killed two contractors and injured two others. In the crisis plans I prepare (for quite a number of oil companies, but not this one), I would classify such an accident as a “Red” level event. It requires proactive and aggressive communication.

I saw the news reports, which were limited to local and industry news, and saw that the company was commenting mostly appropriately expressing sorrow and offering prayers for the families and the injured. I say mostly because it seemed to me an inappropriate level of deferral onto the contractor–something the public and the courts don’t appreciate too much, at least not in BP’s case.

Curious about how the company was responding re digital communications, I was surprised (maybe dumbfounded is better to find):

– absolutely no mention on the corporate website–instead a news headline talking about their latest Health and Safety award

– They have a YouTube channel (good!) so I went there thinking they might have posted an update and perhaps further expressions of regret or sorrow. Nope.

– While I didn’t see the little tweety bird logo on their website I thought, they gotta have Twitter, and yep, sure enough, there is a Twitter account. But, the account said “no tweets yet.” Oh my.

Facebook? Yep, they got one. Despite getting 228 “likes” there is virtually no content there except they were founded in 1959. Certainly no communication about the accident.

Now, I rather expect that the position of a company like this is to do and say the minimum and hope that the event quietly goes away. I certainly am careful never to advise clients to do anything to raise the profile of a story or event. However, it seems out of respect for the victims and families and to accurately reflect the reality of the situation and the conversations going on about it, that something ought to be said. I would expect even a small recognition on their website, an official expression of condolence and sorrow, and an offer to provide additional information as it becomes available.

What do you think? Am I out to lunch here, or does this response fail to meet today’s expectations for an event of this nature?