This paper contributes to the analysis of the interplay of public relations and news in crisis situations, and the conceptualization of strategic framing by introducing the idea of associative frames and the method of semantic network analysis to the PR research field. By building on a more advanced understanding of communication as process of social meaning construction that is embedded in networks of differential relations between different actors, it contributes to extend the perspective of first- and second-order agenda building towards a kind of "third order" or "network agenda building". Via an automated content analysis of more than 3700 articles we examine agenda- and frame-differences between public relations, UK and US news in the BP crisis. The study documents that BP successfully applied a decoupling strategy: It dissociated itself from being responsible for the cause and at the same time presented itself as solvent of the crisis. It shows that in crises, associative frames in PR resonate partly to associative frames in news. Especially the US news followed BP and did not succeed in presenting political actors as solution providers. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.