Using PR Skills To Unite An Industry For A Vital Cause.
How do you communicate the safety quest of a global oil company to multiple stakeholders with the aim of uniting an industry to improve safety? This is the challenge I was handed as evidence began to emerge that fatalities and injuries during the ship-to-shore delivery of fuel and lubricant worldwide were happening at an unacceptable rate. As one of the world’s leading suppliers of fuels and lubricants to the global marine industry, BP took it on themselves to step into the breach and address the industry-wide problem. They turned to me to come up with a solution to raise the awareness of the issue and bring the industry together to tackle the problem.
To achieve this level of industry engagement, I knew that it would take much more than a media campaign to ‘unite’ the industry in a common cause and avoid creating a blame culture. In order to initially raise the awareness of the safety issue, I began to contact key people in key stakeholder organisations, effectively to gauge the mood of the industry, understand existing safety protocols, processes and legislation, identify potential weaknesses in the system and win support for a collaborative approach.
The next step was to create a buzz – a sense of urgency – within the key stakeholder group to take action to positively address the ship-to-shore safety issue. I believed the most effective way to achieve this was to issue a call to action, asking key people to attend an industry symposium. The event was branded The BP Marine Forum on Ship-to-Shore Safety and would take place in Westminster in London. The aim of the event would be to reduce fuel and lubricant delivery related fatalities and injuries. Objectives of the symposium were to: Promote a dialogue among key stakeholders on the issue of safety during the interface between ship and shore; Develop a consensus among symposium participants that ship-to-shore safety issues should be addressed; Encourage the creation of new industry best practice.
Marketing material was produced to support the event and used in a DM campaign via email to key people of key stakeholder organisations. Representatives from 14 organisations attended the Forum. The organisations were from the energy, ports and shipping sectors as well as classification, educational and training bodies. The programme featured case study presentations and allowed open forum discussion and individual table debates to allow all forum members to express their view. Views were sought on the Forum’s early thoughts on headline issues which might appear in an action plan’ for the industry. A final report was submitted to the UK Government and also the International Maritime Organisation. An action plan for critical safety improvements to the ship-to-shore interface was implemented, shaping future HSE legislation.