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:
- Completely separate the crisis from everything else, including Careers, or
- 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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