Oil giant BP beefs up response to counter disaster

Company uses heavy hitters to lead clean-up operation and strengthen communications.

Media head: Andrew Gower
Media head: Andrew Gower

BP CEO Tony Hayward has been at the forefront of the firm's comms response since its Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April.

He has been backed by ex-FT editor Andrew Gowers, BP's London-based head of media relations, who took over from Roddy Kennedy last year.

After sustained criticism of Hayward, BP has reacted by drafting in US managing director Robert Dudley to head the company's clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico and take a more public and media-facing role.

It has also this month appointed Dick Cheney's former press secretary, Anne Womack-Kolton, to head its US media relations. She fills a vacant role left by Ronnie Chappell, who left in March.

David Bickerton is director of communications at BP in London and has responsibility for BP's internal and external communications.

London-based City agency Brunswick has been retained by BP for a number of years, but is used sparingly until a particular crisis or issue needs communicating.

Brunswick founder Alan Parker is understood to be advising around the disaster from London. Hilary Rosen, managing partner of Brunswick Washington office, is involved in the US, as is director Anthony Coley, ex-spokesman for Senator Ted Kennedy.

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