The Exxon Valdez Incident
One could go on for what seems to be days about the atrocities that are the so called “public relations” of the Exxon Valdez Good Friday oil spill. Questions come to mind on what the senior executives of Exxon were thinking when the news was delivered on that fateful day. Exxon Corporation would never be the same after the morning of March 24, 1989, and Lawrence G. Rawl would never be seen the same after his morning cup of coffee: “The Exxon Valdez, a 987-foot tanker […] ran aground on a reef 25 miles southwest of the port of Valdez. The resulting rupture caused a spill of 260,000 barrels […]” (Seitel, 2011). Now the real question is how would one handle a situation like this? The answer is simple: work, and a lot of it. At the time, Exxon even seemed to be headed in the right direction. Or at least have the right ideas. The first issue that Exxon confronted was whether or not Chairman Rawl should go to ground zero (the spill) and make a public appearance (Seitel, 2011). It even appears that this was an option that was on the table at the time, but was shot down by Exxon executives: “What are you going to do? We’ve already said we have done it, we’re going to pay for it, and we’re responsible for it.” (Seitel, 2011). This line of thought, was a mistake. The very first thing, as soon as the spill was discovered by Exxon, should have been reporting the incident to the media. It is unclear in the case study on who, or how the story first got out, but if Exxon immediately held a press conference and got ahead of the media, it could have controlled the story. Publicly admitting the incident and fault would have started the corporation off in a whole new way and a whole new light in the eyes of the public. And when it comes to the issue of Rawl going to Alaska to help, of course he should have! Chairman Rawl should have shown up on that beach in a pair of overalls with a bottle of Dawn dish soap in one hand and a roll of Brawny paper towels...
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