Tag Archives: Exxon

July 13, 2011 | cwinters | Tagged , , , , ,

Has Rupert Murdoch Raised the Table Stakes for Crisis Response?

Rupert Murdoch has always been a bit of a maverick. And he’s had his share of scandals. And you can’t spend decades in media and publishing, amassing an empire of his size and influence, without also experiencing moments where your hero status (launch of The Daily, anyone?) quickly becomes goat status.

But even I was surprised by the decision to cease publication of the UK’s leading tabloid in the wake of the phone hacking scandal. Since then, some have pointed out that this decision is largely a publicity stunt, because NewsCorp will pick up the readership, and transfer the advertising revenue, to other properties.

But it does beg the question about the table stakes when it comes to a crisis. Those of us in that business often counsel clients that their reputation, and even their business, are at stake when it comes to crises. And we’ve certainly seen companies that never really recovered from a large scale event – ValuJet/AirTran, Lehman Brothers and Exxon, to name a few. But it’s rare to see a company decide to just close its doors in the wake of a scandal.

Does Murdoch’s decision to just close up shop, displacing many innocent employees in the process, create a new world order where the table stakes are even higher in a crisis? Or will the world view this much like the ValuJet changing its name to AirTran scenario?

May 3, 2010 | cwinters | Tagged , ,

When you point a finger…

BP’s CEO told NBC today that the oil spill that is likely to be worse than the mother of all spills – the Exxon Valdez – “wasn’t their accident, but they would clean it up.”

As more than 200,000 gallons of oil are spewed into the Gulf of Mexico each day – a number that may climb to millions according to some experts – BP is desperately grasping onto any lifeboat it can to preserve its reputation. This began with the assertion that the U.S. Government should have have acted more quickly to mobilize resources, to today’s attempt to draw a distinction between the big brand of BP and the little known operator of the actual machinery, Trans Oceana.

This raises an important issue on the role of partners and reputation. To put it simply, reputational sh#@ doesn’t roll down hill. It stays right at the top, where it belongs. Airlines use code share partners, sometimes very small regional code-share partners. But when that plane goes down, the flagship brand’s reputation takes the hit. Always.

Any time you put millions of gallons of oil anywhere other than a tank, you’ve got a problem. But it is how you respond that defines your future. So far, BP isn’t doing much to help themselves.

The issue of reputation cannot be sub-contracted. Leadership, like management, requires that the leader accept responsibility in bad times, and share credit in good times. And BP’s attempt to throw their vendor under the proverbial bus does little to advance their cause.

They selected this vendor.

They supervise this vendor.

They are responsible for this vendor.

The good Sisters at my Catholic School always used to tell us that when you point a finger, three more are pointed back at you.

In other words, BP… you own it.

Carreen Winters can be reached at cwinters@mww.com.

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