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Shaping Opinions Through Search: Gulf Oil Spill Crisis Communications

While searching for information last night about the disaster created by the spill and collapse of Beyond Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig, I noticed a familiar dynamic within the search results: Crisis communication and political responses to the disaster.

While familiar to someone who examines search results for a living, it is by no means common to see a deliberate strategy to respond to or take advantage of search interest in a catastrophe. This particular crisis communications tactic is all too often ignored. But it’s wise not to ignore it if you’ve got some skin in the game. This is a Google Trends chart of search volume for the phrase “Gulf Oil Spill” during the past 30 days:

Gulf Oil Spill Search Volume

And the following is a screencast examination of the search results for that phrase in Bing, Yahoo! and Google. You’ll see both crisis communications tactics at work as well as political responses to the disaster.

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About David Erickson

David Erickson is principal of e-Strategy Media, a digital marketing consultancy based in Minnesota. David has extensive experience in digital marketing and is often used as an expert source by media and asked to speak on the topic before organizations and to sit on panel discussions.

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