Posted by: kelliroesch | April 15, 2013

Framing a crisis; does time heal all wounds?


 On April 20, 2010 a British Petroleum (BP) drilling platform exploded, instantly killing 11 workers and spilling 18 million gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico in 87 days.

While reading “A Content Analysis of BP’s press Releases Dealing With Crisis” by Jingbong Choi, I attempted to remember the event. The news featured the daily saga, BP’s Chief Tony Hayward’s attempts to respond publicly fell flat and he was fired, and oil kept pumping into BP oil_spill_birds_01the ocean.

During the crisis BP communicated to the public through 93 press releases Choi labeled as, informational, philanthropic, social responsibility, defensive, and official BP updates.Choi believes BP succeeded in minimizing further damage to their reputation by coupling social responsibility and philanthropic frames to accept responsibility of the disaster.

Today BP tourism commercials encourage us to visit the Gulf because the water, weather, and seafood is great.

Despite the passing of time and the positive framing, skeptics comment on the videos; they haven’t forgotten the spill or its effects. Time has changed nothing for them. Yet there are those who like the videos and say so. They’ve moved on, it seems.

What is your framing of the BP disaster then and now?

William J. Brennan, Jr. “We look to the history of the time of framing and to the intervening history of interpretation. But the ultimate question must be, what do the words of the text mean in our time.”


  1. Those images certainly frame the issue as we remember it in the news! I would imagine a framing analysis of the news coverage would offer a completely different perspective than that of BP press releases! Yet, both are important to consider, especially if you’re someone who has to manage communication in a crisis!

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