The aftermath of a deadly explosion: A rhetorical analysis of crisis communication as employed by British Petroleum and Phillips Petroleum
Maresh, Michelle Marie
Using a rhetorical, public address approach to conducting a case study analysis, this study argues for the connection between rhetoric, specifically public address, and public relations. This study goes beyond seeking to understand the damage a crisis has caused and, rather, views the discourse as a crucial took for the success of a crisis response method. Within this study, a working definition of the term crisis is created, and the possibility for developing a crisis response model for industry-specific accidents using a hybrid of the crisis communication strategies of Coombs, Benoit, and Hearit is explored. The rhetorical effectiveness of the crisis response and image restoration strategies used by British Petroleum and Phillips Petroleum in response to tragic explosions that occurred at their respective facilities is analyzed. Overall, this study is meant to be an analysis of the use of crisis response strategies in similar accidents in the industrial field and how the communication used affects the stakeholders’ perception of the refineries as a whole. The results of this analysis will contribute to organizational strategy improvement and existing literature on crisis communication and rhetoric. Furthermore, aside from the airline industry, the body of crisis communication literature is lacking in the study of industry-specific crises, particularly in the refinery industry. Therefore, it should be suggested that industry-specific accidents and the crisis response strategies should be studied in hopes of developing a model that could be used for these accidents.