Industry experts talk at Reputation in Oil, Gas and Mining conference 2013



The third-annual Reputation in Oil, Gas and Mining conference was held at Glaziers Hall in London Bridge on 13 June. The audience congregated into the Court Room for six sessions, all of which concerned the current communications and reputational issues pertaining to the extractives industry.

The conference opened with a presentation from BP’s director of communications, David Bickerton, and Statoil’s vice president of media relations, Jannik Lindbæk Jr. They discussed the crisis management strategies that were employed during the January 2013 hostage crisis at the Tingantourine gas facility at In Amenas, Algeria. Both speakers emphasised the importance of decisive leadership within a structure where every member of staff has a well-defined role. This becomes necessary when managing the flow of information to the media, the Government, the families of victims and concerned members of staff both during and after a crisis. Both said training and preparation were necessary to make the systems and procedures clear and accessible and to learn from previous experiences. 

The second presentation took a turn towards internal communications and examined the role that video can play in building and maintaining relationships with stakeholders. Stephen Golding, of oil and gas exploration company Tullow Oil, showed some of the organisation’s award winning videos. He detailed how projects such as personal stories using handycams, point-of-view documentaries about individual jobs and professional videos can unify an international company into an interconnected organisation. He also demonstrated how videos can provide slick, informative, marketable content that appeal to both the employee and the external stakeholder.      

Next, MD of The Social Simulator, Steph Gray, had some words of warning about the pitfalls of social media sites. In an interactive session he demonstrated that, although social media can insert enhanced insight and depth into brand personality, it can also quickly become an almost unstoppable, damaging concoction of rumour and speculation, he advised integrating social media into crisis management strategies.

Transparency was the key word of the following two sessions, with Regester Larkin’s Ben Overlander and Schillings’ Chris Scott stressing the importance of taking responsibility when crisis inevitably strikes; or as Ben succinctly put it, “tell it all, tell it fast, tell it truthfully.” 

The final session took a look at how extractive organisation bodies maintained their brand and reputation whilst tackling the contemporary issues in the industry. Most of the topics discussed by the three panellists, Oil & Gas UK’s Ashley Shackleton, ICMM’s Ben Peachey and UKOOG’s Ken Cronin, acknowledged the need to alter public perception and obtain, what Ken called, a “social licence” to operate.

To bring the conference to a close, the chair of the event, Andrew Griffin from Regester Larkin, praised the industry that he said “creates jobs and wealth and keeps the lights on.” He added that despite the seemingly endless crises faced by those in the oil and mining industry, they were “still at the forefront of reputational management.”