You’d think that executives at oilsand company Syncrude would have learned, but it’s obvious they haven’t after revealing that it wasn’t just 500 ducks that died in their toxic settling ponds, but 1,600. (CBC story on dead ducks.)
Who advises these guys? Looking at this whole thing from a public relations perspective, and with the Alberta oilsands under attack from practically the rest of the world, you’d think they’d realize that you should put the bad news out first. All of it.
Be right up front with the disaster and lay it all out. You don’t want people thinking that you’ve swept it under the carpet, have something to hide, have skeletons in the closet, etc. Of course, that’s the line of thinking. People inherently don’t trust the oilsands companies anyway, but there would be a chance of that if they handled these things properly.
The perception might change slightly if you’re the first to the table with bad news, exactly what happened and what you’re doing to stop it from happening again. It defuses the media a bit because they’re so used to the opposite. It will hopefully help the perception that you’re truly sorry and are really taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And, hopefully, the company really is.
Any true PR professional would have advised Syncrude to go public with all the details immediately and not extend the news cycle on this fiasco. If Syncrude executives didn’t listen, shame on them.
The whole situation with the oilsands is going to take more than just a $25 million publicity campaign by the Alberta government to make it go away. For world opinion to change, there’s going to have to be real action to clean up the tar ponds and minimize the carbon footprint. There are no shortcuts.
I’m just curious how they’re going to handle it when it happens again, because it will.<–>