Internal and External Communication on Bp Gulf Oil Spill

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Executive Summary1



Internal communication3

External communication6



Internal communication11

External communication12

Executive Summary

BP oil spill in April 2010, had incurred serious damage to both the company and publics. Though some internal and external communication strategies were carried out after the accident, more improvements should be made by BP to maintain the safety and reputation. The internal strategies used by BP, employing appropriate communication channels and appointing a CEO who is familiar with American cultures, need to be analysed and evaluated, as well as the external strategies aiming at reacting to public by employing crisis response strategy framework. Based on what were concluded from the analysis, some feasible recommendations were to be brought forward. In order to avoid the similar accident, BP must promote trainings focusing on enhancing communication skills in multicultural environment and establish a crisis management team to respond to public. These proposed strategies are valuable to improve BP’s internal and external communication.


April 2010, BP oil spill, the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, took place in the Gulf of Mexico, the oil had been leaking for almost three months. The spill brought about plenty of pollution to the marine wildlife and destroyed Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries. Accordingly, the government established a panel to look into the accident in detail and an investigation report was released later. The investigation result indicated that the accident was unavoidable because of a serious of blunders involved in drilling the well. Faced with the accident, BP (British Petroleum now changed to Beyond Petroleum) tried to employ both internal and external communication strategies to deal with problems. The purpose of this report is to provide recommendations to improve BP’s internal and external strategies. The research will be based on the journals, articles and BP’s press release about the spill; the research will be backed up with some corresponding theories. Our team will act as a professional consultant, advise some communication strategies to help BP make improvements. In the following report, the internal and external strategies in relation to the Gulf Oil Spill will be analysed and evaluated, followed by a conclusion. In the end of the report, recommendations were given to improve the internal and external communication strategies.


Internal communication

The first communication strategy that BP employed is a variety of communication channels to keep employees informed about company affairs and context. These channels include intranet sites, targeted e-mails and face-to-face communication. For example, after the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010, meetings and internal websites, through which BP leaders regularly engage with employees, helped employees stay updated on the latest news and process about the oil spill (BP 2010). While face-to-face meetings are richer communication channels, the internal websites, combined with meetings, are leaner channels. The two kinds of communication channels cooperate together to convey information with both high level and low level of uncertainty or ambiguity. As a result, every employee can know how the accident processes clearly. Appropriate communication channels in this strategy are elementary for an effective organization, but if communication is poorly managed, according to Argenti (2007), the resulting would exaggerate the negative effects. That is to say, if BP failed in choosing appropriate channels for employees to gather information of the serious accident, employees may be distracted from their work and, what is worse, lose trust on BP. Though the spill accident was caused partly because of the failure in the management and...
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