ISUP 2013 CBS
Crisis communication and
Social Media – A
simulation Game Learning
Mashable’s take on the BP Oil Spill
Table of Contents
•Mashable’s Point of view
•Media Training Session
BP oil spill crisis situation analysis
An explosion in an offshore drilling rig, 11 killed and 17 people
injured. Oil kept spilling out for months after - Red Crisis 1 -
Out of their control.
Our priority is to cover the story as it develops in order to
attract readers to our site - Our stake.
As a social media news site our main purpose is to cover the
crisis in an objective manner in order to attract as well as
What are the key “stakes”/ issues/ challenges/
priorities that you face as a BP oil spill stakeholder
The main issues for BP's crisis from our point of view:
• Their handling of the social media aftermath: incoherent
answers and generally untimely response
• BP failed to control the crisis as it developed on social media.
For instance, a spoof account managed to get 142,470
followers, while the BP account only has 15,695 (at the time of
Could it have been prevented?
From our point of view, the social media crisis could not have
been prevented completely as the crisis snowballed at a very
However, they could have minimized the "damage" by
reacting sooner and more effectively.
fx: BP should have taken greater responsibility, and not tried
to understate the scope of the oil spill
BP's reputation and has it affected
It is hard to determine whether or not BP's reputation has been
affected in the long run. In terms of their facebook page, there
is a majority of supporters and positive reactions towards
As a social media news site, with the objectiveness we try to
uphold, we see no signs of change in how it has affected us as
a BP stakeholder.
Part 2 - Media training / Conference
Our Q&A that we had prepared were:
• How do we secure an objective approach?
o We secured our objectiveness by analyzing social media and communicating
the data that we found.
• Why haven't we covered the situation from a more positive angle?
o Because it was important for us to stay objective. The situation is of a
serious matter and we chose to represent the critical stance taken by the
public in the beginning, hence we covered the crisis as it actually evolved
• Have we been too one-sided in our coverage, and only focused on the social media
o Our site is always focused around social media, which is our specialization.
Other media chanels chose a wider coverage, so we did not need to do this.
Part 3 - Social media training
• With reference to our media experiential training in class, we
see BP's media approach as very constructed.
• Negative comments were referred to a external site, and
facebook users can only comment on BP's posts, not make
• Overall, the image presented on Facebook and Twitter is very
positive tending towards simulation
Part 3 - Social media training
BP has felt the need to express
that they do not delete many
Again an example of how BP construct
their image on social media
BP's strategic priorities
BP's facebook users cannot start their own posts. This, we
consider a strategic move of BP to try to control their image
and the page's positive appearance.
We wrote a comment to one of their posts, to see their reaction,
if any, and if it would get deleted because of our critical
approach or get an auto reply. We're still waiting for an
answer, on facebook as well as to our tweet...
Part 4 - Learning outcomes and
• We have learned that it is crucial to have a crisis plan at
hand. Always to be proactive (as opposed to reactive) and
prepare for the worst crisis that could possibly emerge.
• Every organization has a lot of stakeholders to take into
• Be truthful and take responsibility.
• It is important to stick to your crisis preparedness plan and
avoid any reactions out of panic
• Re-evaluate the level of the crisis and treat it accordingly.
Part 4 - what kind of crisis is it?
It is a mature type of crisis. The oil spill itself is an environmental
disaster affecting both flora and fauna as well as human
Although the crisis is primarily environmental it has also affected
the company's image negatively due to their vague handling
of the crisis in the first place.
The oil spill has brought up a crisis for the fishing industry in the
area as well, and there is possibilities for the tourist industry
will suffer from it as well.
Anthonissen, P. (ed.) 2008 Crisis Communication: Practical PR Strategies for
Reputation Management and Company Survival, Kogan Page. (200 pages)
Umer, R., Sellnow, T., and Seeger, M. 2010. Effective Crisis Communication: Moving
from Crisis to Opportunity. Sage Publications (260 pages).
White, C. 2011, Social Media, Crisis Communication and Emergency Management:
Leveraging Web 2.0 Technologies. CRC Press (330 pages) - Exercises included.
Smith, D. and Elliott, D. 2006. Crisis Management. Systems and Structures for
Prevention and Recovery. Routledge.
Sara Beukel (@Sarbeu)
Mie Thomsen (@
Anne Sophie Balling Bertram (@asbbertram)
Mads Emil Dalsgaard (@Mads3mil)
Betty Tsakarestou, Assistant Professor, Department of
Communication, Media and Culture at Panteion University,
Greece and twitter account (@tsakarestou)
Academic Director: Patricia Plackett, Department of Operations
Management at CBS