FIR Interview: Neil Chapman, BP, and Deepwater Horizon Response

Updated on May 15, 2010

What many commentators and opinion-formers see as the worst environmental disaster in US history happened off the US coast in the Gulf of Mexico last month when the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig leased by BP exploded and sank, killing and injuring rig workers and releasing oil from a deepwater well that continues to pump its content out into the sea, estimated by some to be up to 25,000 barrels of crude oil every day.

During the last two episodes of The Hobson and Holtz Report, #546 and #545, we’ve discussed the disaster from the communication perspectives, looking at what the British oil company and US government agencies are doing from what we’ve observed online, as well as grassroots initiatives by others at the local level using social media.

In this FIR Interview, co-host Neville Hobson talks to Neil Chapman, BP Head of Refining and Marking Communications, about the objectives of and activities behind Deepwater Horizon Response, the US government-led unified command that links federal, state and other organizations involved in addressing the disaster and providing a forum for those organizations to make consensus decisions.

As a BP communications executive directly engaged with the unified command, Neil offers inside perspective on the command’s use of social media tools and channels to share information and engage with the public in places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, some thoughts on BP’s own communications approach; and insight into how BP’s employees are being informed about the event and BP’s response, and how they’re being empowered to engage with people.

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About our Conversation Partner

Neil Chapman has worked on high profile public affairs issues in different parts of the world for more than 25 years. He has responded to major crises in the US and UK – including deadly explosions, legal cases, oil spills and hurricanes. He is part of BP’s communications response team for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He has been on the communications front line for controversial industrial projects, company takeovers, trading scandals and lobbying campaigns. Neil also has experience working on developments for growing business in Latin America, Africa and Asia. He was PR chair for three energy associations – the Natural Gas Supply Association and Center for LNG in the US, and the UK’s Offshore Operators Association – when they faced some of their most difficult communications challenges.

He has trained and counselled scores of business people at all levels on honing their presentation and media skills, particularly when delivering hard messages or facing hostile audiences.

Currently Neil heads communications for BP’s Global Refining and Marketing business that refines, markets, trades and transports crude oil and petroleum products to wholesale and retail customers in over 100 countries. Neil was a journalist in the UK, working for newspapers, TV and radio. He studied in England and the USA qualifying as a teacher. He also has a Bachelor of Arts degree.

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Share your comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future interviews, in the FIR FriendFeed Room. You can also email us at fircomments@gmail.com; call the Comment Line at +1 206 222 2803 (North America), +44 20 8133 9844 (Europe), or Skype: fircomments; comment at Twitter: twitter.com/FIR. You can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments, if you wish (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

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This FIR Interview is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years. Information: www.ragan.com.

Podsafe music On A Podcast Instrumental Mix (MP3, 5Mb) by Cruisebox.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. BP’s nightmare — NevilleHobson.com

    […] FIR Interview: Neil Chapman, BP, and Deepwater Horizon Response – an interview with BP’s Head of Refining and Marking Communications on May 15 with inside perspective on the use of social media tools and channels to share information and engage with the public in places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr by Deepwater Horizon Response, the US government-led unified command; some thoughts on BP’s own communications approach; and more. […]

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