Blog
3 Steps to Better Crisis Management in the Oil Industry

3 Steps to Better Crisis Management in the Oil Industry

Negative postings from customers, critical media coverage, accidents – those things all have the potential to turn into a major crisis that needs to be managed carefully to prevent lasting damage to a company’s reputation. Being aware of such events or comments as early as possible gives companies the chance to react immediately.

Social media monitoring helps them to track online mentions of their company. Planning ahead for a crisis, setting up monitoring and drafting communication strategies for different crisis scenarios are essential tasks for communications professionals. They need to be able to anticipate a crisis as early as possible, ideally before it has even begun, adapt their communication strategy and brief employees and management on how to handle the situation. Social listening offers a way to manage those task more easily and efficiently.

Using examples of crisis strategies and crisis communication plans from the oil and gas industry, we have compiled the key steps of using social listening to improve your company’s action plan for handling a crisis. Here are some of the key elements:

1. Before the crisis hits: Be alert!


Social listening should be a given for any major company. Establishing a monitoring tool early on gives them an opportunity to set up early warning systems, for example through alerts that are automatically dispatched when the buzz around a particular topic increases significantly. Knowing the average level of buzz or sentiment towards their company also gives them an idea of which amount is normal and when they need to be especially aware of the conversation surrounding the company.

Share of voice for oil companies worldwide

Between mid-March and mid-April, Shell and Petrobras were the most talked about oil companies.

The graph shows that Shell and Petrobras were two of the most talked-about oil companies for the time between mid-March and mid-April. The spike for Shell is related not only to the oil giant buying BG Group in one of the largest deals in the industry in recent years, but also to one of Shell’s oil rigs being occupied by a group of Greenpeace activists.

2. During the crisis: Respond quickly!


Short response times are essential for successful crisis communication and management. Stalling for time or holding back information can damage a company’s reputation for years to come. BP’s initial communication after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, for example, today still serves as a textbook example of failed crisis communication.

Knowing where critical conversations are happening is essential for quick responses. Addressing customer concerns on the platforms your audience is already using cuts down dramatically on the time it takes your message to reach them and be spread. During a crisis, speedy response can make or break a company’s entire image.

Share of media types global oil companies

Twitter was the preferred channel for conversations about the oil companies listed below between mid-March and mid-April.

With a share of more than 70%, most of the conversation about the oil companies listed below between mid-March and mid-April happened on Twitter. Knowing where people talk about a company or its products enables PR managers to focus their communication on the same channels, thereby making sure their messages reach the widest audience possible.

3. After the crisis: Evaluate & improve your strategy!


After a crisis, it’s important to evaluate your crisis communication campaign and its success. Comparing the sentiment before, during and after a crisis gives overall impression of how well your message has been perceived by the target audience. A look at emotions or keywords for those periods shows what the focus of the conversation was and if you managed to bring your point of view across to shape at least a part of the overall narrative.

Negative emotions towards Big Oil

Negative emotions for the oil companies listed below between mid-March and mid-April include terms like “failure” among the most mentioned.

These are some of the essential elements of a successful crisis communication strategy. We created a detailed guide on how social listening can benefit companies during a crisis, using examples from some of the big players in the global oil market: BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Total. Check out the full how-to guide with step-by-step explanations and learn how to prevent harm to your company’s reputation during a crisis here!

Crisis Management in the Oil Industry