Title

Stonewalling as an Image-Defense Strategy: A Critical Examination of BP's Response to the Deepwater Horizon Explosion

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-18-2013

Department

Communication Studies

Abstract

This research investigated BP's response to accusations that the organization prioritized money and time over safety following the Deepwater Horizon explosion. This article uses Benoit's image-repair theories to examine BP's congressional testimony. Analysis of the testimony revealed a previously unidentified image-defense strategy, labeled here as stonewalling. This tactic redirected the audience's attention to miniscule and unimportant details, which enabled BP to temporarily prevent further damage to the company's image. The effectiveness and ethics of stonewalling are discussed in light of the 10 best practices of crisis communication.

Publication Title

Communication Studies

Volume

64

Issue

4

First Page

395

Last Page

410

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