We have been gathering video clips and using them in our media training and crisis spokesperson seminars for decades. Our clients continue to learn from them. So, for the next few weeks, let’s dig into our training history with some videos From the Archives.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in 2010 was a heartbreaking tragedy for those killed and their families, and an environmental disaster for the Gulf Coast. It was also a public relations catastrophe for British Petroleum. The initial statements by former BP CEO Tony Hayward provided a classic example of how not to address a crisis through the media. Hayward tried to defend BP by blaming its contractor Transocean and minimizing the spill’s impact on the environment. Click on the video below to view Hayward’s public relations transgressions.

In the initial stages of a crisis, playing the blame game is never a good idea. In taking that approach, Hayward came across as defensive, petty, and uncaring. Even if the people and equipment were Transocean’s, the oil was BP’s. And, of course, Hayward’s prediction that the environmental damage would be minimal was, to say the least, wildly off base. He should never have speculated on future developments. Hayward’s performance damaged BP’s standing with the public so deeply that its reputation has never fully recovered.

You can learn from Tony Hayward’s mistakes. Instead of placing blame and speculating during a crisis, stay focused on the impact it may be having on people and the community. Show compassion first. That’s the first step toward rebuilding public trust. Blame and other issues can be determined much later. It’s a lesson Hayward learned much too late.