Problem: Let’s say you have a media-related situation, and as a client you want a PR firm’s help. Here are the key factors:
• Natural resources disaster;
• People killed, or near imminent death;
• Worldwide media focused squarely on you;
• 24/7 images and video convey the stark reality;
• Crisis will certainly last weeks before the quickest solution becomes available;
• All your fellow citizens are united in their anger and frustration.
Of course, we’re talking about the Chilean mine rescue… or are we talking about BP? On the surface (forgive the pun), the two crisis situations actually shared many common factors. And, they both have been resolved. Of course, we know the miners thankfully had a happy ending — they were all rescued. And as we further know, BP’s oil spill disaster, though it did significant ecological damage, also thankfully came to an end.
But why is it the world celebrates the miners’ rescue, yet gave BP a global chastising? One word: transparency. Time after time after time, BP’s own words, deeds, and track record either got tangled in miscommunication or shameful double-speak. The Chilean government, on the other hand, kept everyone continuously informed with the truth and built considerable goodwill for their actions. We’d bet that even if the mine rescue hadn’t gone as smoothly as it did, there would be some forgiveness offered for the considerable effort made.
Advice from a DC PR Firm: When the crisis starts, keep your facts straight, the explanation simple, and then you can ask the public to believe.