Yesterday I posted on whether communications in response to a crisis were within the ambit of “information governance.” I referred to the BP response to the explosion at their Texas City refinery as an example of doing it well. There, then-CEO John Browne said, in response to a question from the press on liability, something along the lines of “We are responsible for everything that happens within our fence lines.” Without equivocation. One can hear the lawyers cringe.
But BP’s response following the Texas City explosion was not uniformly good. John Manzoni, then head of refining at BP, complained that the explosion, that left several dead, caused him to have to leave his skiing vacation, at a cost of a precious day of his vacation [well, he said “leave”].
How do you prevent the big sneezes in your company from saying or writing something really bad at a time of crisis? Can you? Is that content control or just dealing with humans, caught up in the heat of the moment? Is it a culture issue, where senior people think they can write that way? See also Tony Hayward’s “I want my life back” comment in the aftermath of the Gulf spill. If the seniors think and write that way, what do the rank and file do?
How much did Manzoni’s comment cost BP’s shareholders?