Exxonmobil and the Paris AgreementMay 31st saw two very different stories regarding climate change. Oil giant ExxonMobil voted to report climate change policy as a risk to the business in their regular disclosures. At the same time, stories leaked that President Trump planned to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord. While the two stories are not directly linked, the coincidental event timing and related topics resulted in the two stories being tied at the hip.

The unintended association produced a positive result for ExxonMobil — the company is perceived to be taking a responsible approach to climate change, while the government seems to be taking a step back. However, the oil giant needed to monitor the conversation to ensure that this association remains positive and to ensure their brand continued to be viewed in a positive light.

Analysis

The ExxonMobil Word Cloud clearly highlights ExxonMobil’s new climate change approach and the Paris Agreement, with key topics from both stories appearing in the center of the Word Cloud.

word cloud for Exxonmobil

ExxonMobil’s conversation around the Paris Agreement shows a slightly different story. On May 31, the Paris Agreement comprised 32 percent of the total conversation for Exxonmobil. Part of this traffic was driven by a blog post from CEO  Darren Woods urging President Trump not to leave the Paris Agreement, who believes the treaty provides “an effective framework for all countries to address rising emissions.” This stance, along with the board’s decision to report climate change policy as a risk factor, helped the brand emerge as a source of positivity in the conversation. The response across earned media channels was 54% positive overall for the company.

exxonmobil word cloud for the Paris Agreement

This positive sentiment towards ExxonMobil is also reflected in social media posts. The top posts on Twitter compare the company’s new climate change approach with Trump’s anticipated withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

tweets for Exxonmobil and the Paris Agreement

Controlling the narrative around stories like President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is a tricky challenge — yet they can have a massive impact on a brand’s reputation. ExxonMobil was fortunate that the timing of their new approach coincided with President Trump’s announcement. Compared to the federal government, ExxonMobil was viewed as progressive and environmentally conscious. However, brands are not always as fortunate as ExxonMobil. Brands need the ability to detect any association with a story from an early stage in order to stay ahead of the narrative and position their brand in the best way possible.

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