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Posted on July 6th, 2012, by

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was one of the most significant anthropogenic disasters that occurred in the 21st century. Environmental effects of the oil spill can hardly be underestimated. In this regard, BP is responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico because it is the BP’s platform that caused one of the largest oil spills in history of the oil industry, at least in the Caribbean region. Therefore, the company had to respond promptly to the disaster because it could and did cause substantial damages not only to the environment of the Gulf of Mexico region but also to the economy of the US and other countries located in the region. The pollution of the oceanic water caused death and extinction of many species in the region, while tourism and fishing industries faced a risk of dying out because of the oil spill. Therefore, BP had to respond promptly to the oil spill to minimize the growing dissatisfaction of the public and pressure of the international community headed by the US. In response to the catastrophe, BP has undertaken immediate steps to establish positive public relations that included regular press releases, communication of representatives of the company with mass media, conducting active promotional campaign on TV, and provision of economic compensation for the population of areas affected by the disaster.

First of all, the company used press releases to establish effective communication with the public. In fact, press releases helped the company to convey its messages to the audience. Using mass media, BP has managed to convey the clear message of its responsibility and readiness to cope with negative effects of the oil spill. At the same time, the company apparently overestimated its ability to cope with negative effects of the disaster. At any rate, in the course of the restoration work in the area of the oil spill the company has proved to be unable to stop the further spread of the oil in the area. Moreover, even mutual efforts of BP and the authorities of countries affected by the catastrophe were insufficient to stop negative effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In such a context, press releases of the company stressing that the situation in the Gulf of Mexico is under control was rather hypocritical and failed to mirror the real situation in the region. Naturally, such press releases deceived the public and undermined the company’s public image when the truth about the scope of the catastrophe became obvious to the public. On the other hand, press releases were essential for the company to maintain dialogue with the public and governments of countries affected by the catastrophe. At any rate, press releases demonstrated the responsibility of BP for consequences of the oil spill and the readiness of the company to cope with them. At any rate, press releases of the company were intended to show the public that BP did its best to cope with the catastrophe and its negative effects.

In addition, BP launched TV advertising that aimed at the revelation of the contribution of BP into the prevention of negative effects of the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. The company attempted to present its activities in a positive light. BP’s advertising showed the close cooperation between the company and the public to prevent negative effects of the oil spill. In addition, the advertising stressed that the company used its advanced technologies and did its best to prevent the spread of the oil spill and to minimize negative effects of the catastrophe. In fact, the TV advertising has proved to be quite efficient tool that contributed to the development of the close communication between the company and the public. In addition, advertising allowed the company to send the message to the audience without receiving the direct response from the public or mass media. The company just had to track the feedback of the public on its advertising and take a decision whether to carry on advertising or to stop it, in case the public response to the advertising was negative. In fact, the advertising was quite effective in terms of creating a positive public image of the company after the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition, the economic restoration included BP’s payoffs made by the company to the US and affected states. In this regard, the financial contribution of BP in the restoration of affected areas was very important. The company spent $14 billion on the restoration of the region affected by the oil spill. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the company spent considerable funds on the maintenance of its positive public image and on the communication with the public to show that BP is responsible company that can respond for effects of its errors. The economic contribution of BP was significant but still it was BP that was responsible for the catastrophe and the financial resources spent by the company on the economic restoration of the region were still perceived by the public as insufficient. Therefore, the economic restoration and funding of this restoration by BP was rather an essential condition of the maintenance of its positive public image as a responsible company than an effective tool that could help the company to gain the public support and recognition of its contribution to the overall elimination of negative effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In this regard, leaders and top executives of BP proved to be unable to cope with negative effects of the catastrophes, while the company’s leaders failed to gain the public support to maintain a positive public image of the company.

The attitude of top executives to business reveals the high level of individualism in the contemporary business environment. Policy makers, who are top executives and owners of businesses, are concerned with their own interests solely, whereas needs and wants of employees, clients, shareholders, and the world at large are ignored. At this point, it is worth reminding the disaster in the Mexican Gulf on the oil platform belonging to BP, which proved that benefits of the company were more important than environmental safety concerns.

Therefore, the contemporary business is highly individualistic and interests of other people and the world are secondary for owners of business and top executives of companies. As a result, accounting scandals are frequent in the contemporary business environment because top executives violate existing ethical norms in the pursuit of wealth and prosperity. However, they often forget about the fact that the violation of fundamental principles of morality, basic ethical norms and rules is closely intertwined with the violation of existing legal norms (Belasen, 146). Therefore, top executives and policy makers often face a risk of legal liability in case of the violation of legal norms. At this point, it is important to stress that often policy makers start with the violation of ethical norms but they cannot stop in pursuit of their own wealth and steadily they slip from the violation of ethical norms to the violation of legal norms. In addition, ethical norms often have the legal framework and their violation implies the violation of existing legal norms.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was a very serious catastrophe that has numerous destructive effects on the economy and environment of the region. BP was responsible for the oil spill but the company failed to respond to the oil spill adequately and in time. Early press releases of the company raised certainty in the public that the company will cope with the oil spill but eventually the scope of the catastrophe became obvious. The ad used by BP to promote its contribution to the protection of the environment was quite effective but insufficient to draw the public to the company’s side. Finally, financial payoffs made by the company were essential but they also could not improve consistently the public image of the company.

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