PR Response to the BP Oil Spill

DEVENEY

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When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, the Louisiana Office of Tourism employed our team to create and implement its response campaign to the massive oil spill—the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history—and preserve the image of an industry that employs more than 200,000. The firm was charged with responding to the media whirlwind, promoting the facts–despite powerful imagery propagating misperceptions—and proactively preserving the Pelican State’s $9.4 billion tourism industry.

Task:

On April 20, 2010 an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon led to a gushing oil leak that threatened the coastal region and Louisiana’s vital tourism industry. By July 15, the leak was capped, but the polluted perceptions were projected to cost the coastal region between $7.6 and $22.7 billion over the next three years. Louisiana Office of Tourism commissioned our team to forge an aggressive campaign that would immediately respond to the media whirlwind and preserve the Pelican State’s $9.4 billion tourism industry.

Strategy:

Information collected during the exhaustive research phase laid foundation for our strategy. We crafted a campaign capable of resonating within different populations by incorporating Louisiana tourism messages into all tactics. With an understanding that all coverage of Louisiana impacts potential tourists’ perceptions of the state, the quantity of media coverage surrounding the oil spill encouraged us to aspire for media relations opportunities beyond tourism topics. The campaign applied a 360-degree immersive approach to address interests outside of tourism, orchestrating a diverse network of experts to banner our messaging in interviews. These experts secured targeted interviews, and then presented their insights in a context promoting visiting Louisiana.

Result:

– Exceeded the most successful previous annual campaign return on investment for the LOT
– Garnered positive media coverage conveying tourism assets were readily available in Louisiana
– A 1,097-to-1 return on Investment (3,127% over objective)
– More than 667.3 million impressions (1,026% over objective) Some $658.5 million in targeted publicity value (2,743% over   objective)
– Established a Strategic Partner Network, including more than 1,100 industry partners and stakeholders
– Created and leveraged an Experts Bureau of some 86 top spokespeople for Louisiana’s tourism industry
– False perceptions about Louisiana seafood in have improved
– Tourism numbers are trending up and are projected to surpass pre-Katrina numbers in both number of visitors and visitor spending by 2013

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