Mendoza School of Business

ND Prof says oil spill a public relations crisis for BP

Published: June 10, 2010 / Author: WNDU-TV WNDU-TV

O’Rourke runs the Fanning Center for Business Communication at Notre Dame, and the Wall Street Journal has even interviewed him about this topic.

“Tony Hayward was improperly prepared for this task,” said O’Rourke from his office on Wednesday.

After 11 people died in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion – and as oil continued to spew into the Gulf of Mexico – Hayward said this in an interview: “There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do,” said Hayward. “I’d like my life back,” Hayward added.

Those comments were just the beginning, according to O’Rourke. “Comments that he wanted his life back, comments that the damage to the Gulf would be minimal, all really led people to believe that first he didn’t know what he was talking about, and secondly that he was minimizing the problem”,” said O’Rourke.

O’Rourke says Hayward was the tip of the iceberg — a sign that BP simply wasn’t ready for a crisis.

“They could have done a better job in advance of the actual calamity by planning for it,” he said. “They’ve got a reputational crisis on their hands.”
“Nobody trusts the company at this point,” said O’Rourke. “They have surrendered their role as a $340 billion oil company to a coast guard admiral. Admiral Thad Allen is now seen as the most credible source on this subject. That’s never a good position for a for-profit company to be in,” he said.

O’Rourke says BP now has COO Doug Suttles as their main spokesperson – and he’s doing a far better job than Hayward.


Topics: Mendoza