Companies screw up. Intentionally or not, they at one point do something wrong. That’s easy to understand, as they are opperated by human beings who are extremely prone to error. After they screw up, they do damage control: try to fix the issue and engage in crisis communications. This damage control PR campaign might go either way: it may help present the company in question as human, but trying to fix everything quickly and make amends for their mistake; or it may end up portraying a greedy, careless entity that makes matters worse by improperly handling the crisis they have created.
Once the issue is solved, the press stops buzzing about the error and its consequences, there is no guarantee the company won’t screw up again. The downside is that this strike two will bring to mind the initial booboo they are known for. Doing damage control for this second PR crisis is ten times harder, especially if it’s close enough to the first incident.
This is the case of BP, the company responsible for the largest ecological disaster in modern history, the explosion and subsequent oil spill that spread through the Gulf of Mexico. They communicated poorly and everybody hated them, they took ages to fix the problems and clean the waters. And now they have wronged mother nature again. Once more, on American soil, in Alaska that is.
BP employees mistakenly shot dead a polar bear from Alaska, messing with the local ecosystem, which is already quite delicate. Of course, as news of this incident spread, all the anger towards BP was rekindled.
What can a company do in such a case? Not much to prevent possible errors. It is virtually impossible to forsee and prevent anything any of your employees might do wrong. What you can do is learn from your mistake and handle it all better next time. React faster, show genuine interest in making ammends, and of course, hope and pray it does not happen too soon! 🙂
Is there anything else to do? What do you think?