Imagine you live nearby a pharmaceutical factory. Decade after decade, it creates wealth and jobs in your area by producing life-saving products. Then, one day, there is a fire at the factory, damaging a component upon which half the output depends. The company puts out the fire soon as possible so that no nearby residents are likely to suffer any long-term health consequences.
Obviously, the appropriate response to such a situation would to be to both investigate the cause of the fire and to let the company fix the damage as soon as possible, so it can get back to its important work.
This also should have been the response of the residents of Richmond, California, to last year’s fire at the local Chevron oil refinery, because oil refineries are no less valuable than pharmaceutical factories.…
“We should never forget that the oil industry, whatever its problems (and most of those are caused by bad government policies) is the single most vital industry in the world.”
This election year, America faces many crucial legislative choices in the oil/gas industry–and the PR strategy of oil companies will certainly affect the outcome.
What should oil company executives do to improve their industry’s reputation and secure their freedom to produce the lifeblood of civilization?
Unfortunately, the conventional answer is: pretend they’re not oil companies. BP’s John Browne some years ago infamously declared his company’s aspirations to be “Beyond Petroleum”–a slogan that obviously does not aid the industry’s desire for more petroleum drilling rights. (BP, to its credit, no longer trumpets this slogan, which defaults BP back to the implicit original, British Petroleum.)…