Corporate Eye

“Careers” Meets Crisis: BP

 

BP Screenshot

Is there any good way for the corporate Careers page to deal with a highly publicized business problem such as BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill?

Certainly there is no easy answer to that question, but there are two conventional approaches:

  1. Completely separate the crisis from everything else, including Careers, or
  2. Distribute the crisis message throughout all corporate communications

BP has apparently chosen Option 1.

The BP website has a tab labeled Gulf Response.  Other than that—not a mention of the crisis anywhere.  Not on the Investor Relations page, not on the Careers page, not on the Home page.  Not anywhere, at least as of May 31.

There’s an argument to be made for the isolation strategy, and in some cases it probably is the best approach.  But given the extent and the notoriety of BP’s current crisis, the absence of mention seems seriously unrealistic.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone will come to the BP site without a general awareness of the enormous, still ongoing problem that now confronts the company.  So it seems unfortunate to have the following text in the box titled “Featured job category”:

BP has a remarkable record of exploration – one that’s taken us from the Gulf of Mexico to Indonesia. That’s why we need people with exceptional talents and training to help us make every well better than the last.

Rewriting the Careers page is understandably not a top priority for a company in crisis.  But in BP’s case, all the pages seem untouched, so it’s probably not a matter of priorities, but rather of strategy.

Toyota is the only company that can reasonably be compared with BP in terms of crisis management, at least in recent times.  So how has Toyota dealt with this problem?  In a surprisingly simple—and fairly effective—way:  They have a News feed on the Careers landing page.  Also on the About the Company landing page.

The “News” items are mainly company press releases, so the messaging is controlled.  But there is still an impression of transparency.  And the inclusion of a News section at least acknowledges that something is going on . . .

Beyond the corporate website, BP has a growing social media problem.   A CNNMoney.com story reported on May 26 that “an online movement to boycott BP for its role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is growing at a rate of better than 25,000 names a day.”  That won’t hurt BP financially (they don’t own the 11,500 U.S. stations selling their gas), and even if public attitudes did affect their sales, the amount of money lost wouldn’t be a drop in the ocean compared to their other looming losses.  So what difference does it really make if people vent about the company online?

That remains to be seen.  But one reality is that some people thinking of a career with BP will think twice—and may well choose a company that seems more forthcoming.

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at www.cynthiagiles.com, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.
 
Comments

you are SO right. it’s mind-boggling how they’ve ignored this, particularly with that specific featured job category and the text touting their record. they have a difficult rode ahead where it concerns attracting high-caliber talent (and customers and shareholders). they seem to be pushing their head in the sand here as well. they’d be far better off by being more direct and even sharing stories from their employees about their pride (?!!!) in BP’s response, as well as profiling individual and team efforts to help stem the spill, curtail the damage, and collaborate with the community.

i wrote about this in a post titled “are you up for the challenge? bp’s careers tagline says it all”: http://www.freerangecomm.com/2010/05/are-you-up-for-the-challenge-bps-careers-tagline-says-it-all/.

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I would guess BP had a crisis communications plan on the shelf that has not worked. Further, it would appear as obvious the legal and PR team(s) have yet to cope successfully with this crisis. It would have been — be — better to decide how this company wants the outcome or end-state of this crisis to look and then reverse engineer the steps to achieve that. 1) Have a vision, 2) have an experienced full team to deal with the crisis, 3) communicate the plan, 4) still run the company–would appear to be out of sync. I would jump at the chance for a career with BP from this juncture…there will not be a better company — provided BP survives — on the earth for doing this well once — and “if” — the executives have learned the right lessons from this experience.

Captain Louis H. Ahrens

Design An Inflatable Oil Boom That floats out of the water 4 ft , with a submersible base that extends in the water 4 ft . As for stability ! Every 30 ft a 20 to 40 pound weight that hangs and will adjust to depth . On each end of the boom has interlocking pins that connect each Boom together . Each boom will extend 300 foot long and when deflated it will fold and roll up in a compact roll . This boom will roll with the seas. According to the weather condition more weight can be added to the Anchor lines hanging on the base booms to maintain stability in the water .

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