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Burnaby Oil Spill and Crisis Management

Crisis communications is one of the things I do, and this seems to be shaping up to be an especially hot summer for front page disasters, reputation hits and CEO apologies.

Look at the last two weeks. John Mackey of Whole Earth Foods, of course, had to apologize to stakeholders for "anonymously participating on online financial message boards". NBA commissioner David Stern positioned himself well when he commented on allegations of a referee betting on games that it is the "worst situation I've every experienced either as fan of the NBA, a lawyer for the NBA or commissioner of the NBA." (Even Mark Cuban, who has had run ins with the league over this very issue said of Stern's handling of the situation "I have complete confidence that David Stern and Adam Silver will do just that and the NBA and our officiating will be all the stronger for it.") So, thoughtful, heartfelt statements seem to work . . . or at least buy time.

In Canada, I will be watching a crisis that hit British Columbia yesterday. An oil spill in Burnaby. B.C. is already being billed as an environmental disaster. Now, I hardly ever comment on how  companies and organizations manage a crisis in which I have not been involvd (and even less frequently on those in which I have provided counsel because confidentiality is often critical to clients). But I have to say I am  surprised the issue of blame has so quickly come to the fore. According to the CBC, "The road crew that ruptured the pipeline said it was improperly marked. The company that owns the pipeline, Kinder Morgan, has blamed the crew for the rupture."

This is shaping up to be an interesting summer from a crisis communicator's point of view.

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