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BP vs. Transocean

May 20, 2010

Protesters from Greenpeace (from HuffingtonPost)

When students begin any public relations classes, everyone knows about the Firestone vs. Ford battle that happened in late 2000 to early 2001.  In a childhood-like argument, Ford blamed Firestone, and Firestone blamed Ford, for the Ford Explorers with faulty Firestone tires.  After much research, it was concluded that both companies were at fault for different reasons.  After hearing all the news about the incidents with BP and Transocean, I can’t help but think that maybe those companies’ PR professionals missed this week of class.

It’s never a good idea to point blame for an accident a company has it’s hands in, and it is possible to tell the truth and come out on top.  Take Methodist Hospital, when in 2006 three babies were accidentally given an adult dose of heparin, a drug used to reduce blood clots.  The response of the hospital to this tragedy was crucial to protect their reputation and the trust of their patients.  They quickly apologized and respectfully responded in the media, even after they realized it was a pharmacy technician who may have stocked the shelf improperly.  There was no one but the hospital to blame.

In this instance, both companies are at fault. Both companies have some part in the oil spill, whether they will admit it or not.  Transocean may have made the parts, but BP owns the rig, and is actively drilling the oil.  What’s most frustrating is the amount of oil being rushed into the ocean.  BP released a number of 5,000 barrels a day, but NPR reports claim the number 100,000 barrels a day.  BP’s response to the reports was that it wasn’t the amount that mattered, but that they were actually doing something about it, working as hard as possible to clean up the spill. While I agree they probably are working as hard as possible to get the media off their backs, it seems a bit suspicious that they will not discount the amount of oil the NPR reports claim is sweeping the ocean.

Like children, BP and Transocean refuse to take responsibility for a situation in which both parties are clearly and unmistakeably responsible. Who do we have running these companies anyway? With the unemployment rate as high as it is, I’m sure there are plenty of willing and capable adults willing to fess up to their mistakes at the cost of whatever salaries these CEO’s are making.

It’s very upsetting to think that many animals are going to be harmed by the spill, but it’s even more upsetting to know that the companies we trust with our fuel economy can’t react appropriately to failure or negative consequences of their actions.  History repeats itself, and the moral of the story is that we must learn from these repetitive mistakes, and make sure they don’t happen again. Act like adults!

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