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Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Marlin Bates

First Committee Member

Qingwen Dong

Second Committee Member

Carol Ann Hackley

Abstract

Within two months of its emergence, the BP Gulf Oil spill had become the worst environmental disaster in United States history. However, for those studying public relations the oil spill brought more than ecological disaster, by providing a case study of crisis communication. Although there were a number of crisis responses from BP throughout the course of the oil spill, the primary crisis response crafted by BP was an image restoration campaign which premiered in early June 2010. This campaign, though it exhibits qualities of a standard crisis response, was wildly unpopular with the United States Government and citizenry. This rhetorical analysis attempts to uncover the reasons behind the campaign's failure through an application of the genre model of criticism. By defining the crisis communication genre and applying it to the artifact, the current study uncovers the reasons behind the failure of the campaign. Through this discussion, this analysis identifies that BP did not address all necessary exigencies, nor did it consider the influence a rhetor can have on a message. An explanation for the failure of BP' s campaign provided a plethora of implications to the fields of public . relations and rhetorical criticism, while beginning a discussion to help define the crisis communication genre.

Pages

96

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