What do you think of Esso, Shell or BP? A quick search in blogosphere or Google highlights a lot of negative comment about the former – and the recycling of negative stories has created a vicious circle reinforcing a negative reputation which can be very hard to break. So full marks to Exxon-Mobil (Esso) as its new boss, Rex Tillerson, has emphasised the importance of public relations in addressing criticisms. Of course, positive rhetoric won’t be enough to counter any poor strategic decisions – but recognising the impact of negative comments has to be a key element in recovering control of your corporate reputation.
So, do you think Shell and BP are more environmentally friendly? How much of this is based on perception rather than reality? Both companies use colour and imagery to create an impression of environmental awareness on their websites. And both have made a lot of noise about alternative energy. But note that Shell “wants” to build the largest ever offshore wind farm near the Kent coastline, whilst BP “plans” to invest in hydrogen plants (as shown in its advertising campaigns).
These are simply promises – which at some point, must be delivered. As much as public relations can help create a positive image – the real challenge is ensuring the company deserves a positive reputation.