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Video is a powerful form of communication in business used to effectively spread messages. In the best-case scenario, a corporate video creates awareness of a product, builds consumer confidence, and informs everyone from employees to the public. Used irresponsibly, false information can be presented as truth and ultimately damage trust. We’re taking a look back at one corporate video that landed Chevron in hot water.

Chevron’s Video Raises Trust Issues

In 2011, Chevron screened a corporate video for shareholders that came under fire for being unscrupulous. In the wake of this video, an article was published that took Chevron CEO John Watson to task for spreading misinformation. At issue was the oil company’s role in a lawsuit brought by Ecuadorian indigenous communities over environmental damage to their country. Chevron was being accused of dumping 16 billion gallons of toxic waste into rain forest waterways from 1964-1992.

Chevron’s corporate video was an attempt to defend the company against the damning accusations. This was done by denying any criminal activity and blaming any environmental fallout on Ecuador and its government. Karen Hilton, the US spokesperson for Ecuador in this matter, claims the video took quotes out of context and generally spun any existing information to make the oil giant look like it wasn’t culpable.

Video Versus Video

A quick online search shows that Chevron wasn’t alone in creating a video to present their version of the story. The documentary Crude: The Real Price of Oil was released in 2009. It follows two years of the class action suit with interviews from both sides and an examination of how media attention and celebrity support affected perception. In 2012, Amazon Watch produced a video called “The True Story of Ecuador’s Chevron Disaster” that details what happened in a place often referred to as “Amazon Chernobyl”.

Chevron is Fighting Bad PR

woman reacts to bad Chevron PR on phone
Bad news travels quickly in a digital world

Chevron’s misguided attempt to defend itself resulted in what looked to many like a cover-up. Today, bad PR can be especially damaging because of social media. Word spreads fast online, and a misstep is likely to be quickly and repeatedly shared across channels. Once bad PR is in the public realm, there’s no going back. There are best practices when addressing a social media mess which includes having a plan in place ahead of a crisis and facing the incident head-on.

The Power of Video

Video can make a convincing case, regardless of the facts. In corporate video, it’s important to use this form of communication responsibly. Not only is it the ethical thing to do, but ignoring this advice means risking the reputation of your company and possibly suffering irreparable damage. Chevron’s attempt at improving their image backfired, making the company look even worse.

In the wake of a PR gaffe, video can be used to address the situation and explain how a company will act to mitigate damages. This kind of approach can restore consumer confidence and quell nervous investors. Whatever the goal of your video, we can help you get there with our experienced, knowledgeable team.  Call us today for a free quote.

This post originally appeared in 2011 and was updated to reflect current information and trends.

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