While the world continues to whack BP's PR operation, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who is taking part in energy hearings surrounding the oil industry and the BP spill in Congress this week, today blasted ExxonMobil for its attention to media relations in its crisis response plan outlined before the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment this morning.
Stupak noted that BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips and Chevron have crisis plans with relatively short sections on handling the media. ExxonMobil, he said, included a 40-page appendix on dealing with the press in its own plan.
Here are some of the aspects of the plan Stupak singled out:
• The media section in the ExxonMobil plan directs public affairs personnel to "maintain on camera skill proficiency."
• It explains that "communications which convey care and concern for the situation and provide relevant factual information" are "an integral part of ExxonMobil’s emergency response."
• The highest level, Category D, dictates special treatment for questions about global warming and the Exxon Valdez.
• The ExxonMobil plan contains 13 detailed, pre-drafted press releases for almost any occasion.
• There is a fully drafted press release for an accident involving an ExxonMobil facility.
• If the injury occurred off-site, there is a separate press release for that.
• Six of the stockpiled press releases are ready to express that they "deeply regret" an outcome while two more press releases stand ready to express that ExxonMobil is "deeply saddened."
• If a public affairs officer is asked about criminal charges, the plan instructs them to say: "We believe that there are no grounds for such charges. This was clearly an accident and we are working to respond to the immediate needs of the incident."
Stupak notes: "In short, ExxonMobil has meticulously anticipated virtually every conversation that the company might need to have with the media in the days following an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"My problem is that ExxonMobil has given far less attention to actually controlling a spill. "