SUN Yanan (Nan)
Exxon Company is a big oil company inUnited States. In 1989, March 24, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker stroked a reef, and spilling 10 million gallons oil intoAlaska’sPrince William Sound. The region is a habitat for salmon, sea otters, seals and seabirds. The oil eventually covered 1,300 miles of coastline, and 11,000 square miles of ocean. This crisis can be regard as a devastating human-caused environmental disaster, because so many living beings were impacted. It killed birds, marine mammals, and fish and devastated the ecosystem in the oil’s path. At that time, Lawrence Rawl was the CEO of Exxon; he was not good at deal with public communication.
The Exxon faced many problems, like cleanup work, response to the public and apologies to their customers and so on. In my opinion, there are tree mainly problems of Exxon and theValdezoil spill. First of all, Exxon Company did not catch the response time. In crisis, time is the most important factor. Once a crisis was happens, public need to know the crisis’s reason, current situation and solution decision and so on. Therefore, the response time is very important. If a company can response public and media immediately and effectively, the loss of company will be decrease and the image of company will be maintain even increase. In this oil spill crisis, Exxon took 10 hours official time to contain the spill and the company refused to comment on the accident for almost a week. The biggest criticism the company received was that the CEO Lawrence Rawl waited six days to make a statement to the media and public that he did not visit the scene of the accident until nearly three weeks after the spill. According to these actions, public thought Exxon Company did not take this accident seriously and it is not a responsibility company, so the image of company was damaged.
Second problem of Exxon Company is ineffective use of communication channels. In crisis, media is also an important tool. Company can use media to disseminate information, and maintain the image, but Exxon Company did not use media effectively. Exxon Company only delivered information through a small town,Alaska. Certainly, this small location did not prove enough information and lack of communication capabilities. In addition, Exxon Company also proved some inconsistent and contradictory information, the public and press always question the credibility and truthfulness of information. Therefore, public can not feel satisfied and believable.
The third problem is Exxon Company refuse to accept responsibilities. In the beginning, Exxon blamed the state and federal officials for the delays in containing the spill. Then, at the clean-up cost problem, Exxon said they will raise gas prices to pay for the incident, it means that customers had to pay the company’s mistake. Of course, customers felt very angry. In the end, Exxon apologized for the spill but still refused to accept responsibility. Because of these tree mainly problems, the image of company was damaged permanently, and angry customers refuse to buy any Exxon products.
After this accidence, Exxon Company also did many improvements in oil spill prevention and response planning. Now, The United State Coast Guard use satellite to monitor the tankers through theValdezNarrows. They also add more escort vessel to help tankers pass through theValdezNarrows. The ability of skimming systems to remove oil from the water was improved and became more effective. Moreover, marine pilots are all specially trained. These pilots can help and mentor tankers more effective. Congress also promulgated legislation requiring that all tankers inPrince William Soundbe double-hulled by the year 2015, so that if the outer skin is punctured, no oil will leak.
From this crisis, people can learned so many experiences. Exxon Company can found their problems and improve their ability of deal with crisis. Other oil companies can improve their technology of oil spill prevention. The scientists can study the shoreline’s ecological recovery after an environmental disaster. In my opinion, although it was a serious environmental disaster, Exxon Company still has chance to maintain their image. Exxon should response immediately and accept all the responsibilities. First of all, Exxon should do their best to control of the oil spill at the sea. Facing to the public and media, the attitude is very important. I think the image of company is more important than benefit of company. Exxon did not want to pay money for its mistake, so the image was damaged. In the short time, it seems that company saved money, but for long time, customers refuse to buy products, the company loss more.
After analysis this case, I really realized that how terrible impact that oil spill bringing. Oil persisted beyond a decade in surprising amounts and in toxic forms and had long-term impacts at the population level. I also think about The Deepwater Horizon oil spill crisis. So many media concerned about this oil spill event. This crisis just happens on April 20, 2010 in theGulf of Mexico. I also watched news and pictures, and felt terrible and worry about our ecology. The public and media also blamed that theUSgovernment use long time to response. In my opinion, the BP Company did better than Exxon Company. BP Company accepts their responsibilities, apologizes to public, and sets up solution methods.