There is, perhaps, only one area in which BP is more incompetent than in drilling for oil…public relations. The old adage may be that Britain and America are two countries separated by a common language, but BP’s PR department separates the two countries by speaking in some sort of crazy Esperanto that’s incomprehensible to everyone except rocks and Joe Barton.
Of course they know they suck at it. They even hired The Big Dick’s™ former campaign secretary, Anne Womack-Kolton, as their PR guru…now stop laughing, they were serious.
Since then they’ve banished their original plutonium-tongued orator, CEO Tony “I Want My Life Back” Hayward, in favor of BP exec Darryl Willis – who inexplicably wears an orange prison jumpsuit in his advertisements – to look all contrite and humblish. But as Alabama mayor Tony Kennon points out, making empty promises and lying about it isn’t quite the right formula for winning friends and influencing government.
The public has been Pavlovianly conditioned to expect oil companies to lie. No one except a few Republicans expect such upstanding, forthright corporations to do otherwise. But if your entire PR strategy is to outright lie, you need to learn two things.
First, make an attempt to make the lies sound real. Exponentially misunderestimating spill damage and denying there are oil plumes long after every university and high school science lab has confirmed them is a non-starter. Throw in at least a grain of truth.
Try something like, “Yes, there are hundreds of miles of oil plumes, but in relation to how much of them would fit into a tea cup, they really are negligible.”
The second lesson is don’t appear to be hiding anything. It only makes people dig harder and increases the number of lies.
Somehow, BeePee managed to enlist the help of the Coast Guard and local law enforcement agencies to chase off the media in an attempt to keep…shhhh…the big secret – there’s been an oil spill. WHO KNEW?!!
Any random third-grader with a passing knowledge of that slut Hanna Montana appearing on TMZ knows that if you try to hide something juicy the media will hound you to the ends of the Earth and beyond.
The best thing the Beepsters could do is throw off the blanket of secrecy and let the sun shine in. Embrace their crapulence. Not only should they show clips of the oiled birds in their commercials, they should tout the fact that they are well on their way to creating the largest environmental disaster the world has ever known.
Now that’s some good old-fashioned Cheneyesque PR!
- Can Anne Womack-Kolton Repair the Irreparable? BP’s New PR Push (pamil-visions.net)
- BP’s spokesperson gets his news about the spill from the news (americablog.com)
- BP’s PR Strategy Makes a Shift with Carl-Henric Svanberg in the Highlights (pamil-visions.net)
- Gulf oil spill: Will Deepwater sink the 101-year-old BP? (guardian.co.uk)
- Joe Barton withdraws apology for his apology (crooksandliars.com)
- BP’s influence in Washington fades (money.cnn.com)
- Alabama Republican: Cigarettes A Worse Environmental Disaster Than The Oil Spill (outsidethebeltway.com)
- BP CEO Tony Hayward Tries To Salvage Reputation With New Ad Campaign: ‘We Will Make This Right’ (thinkprogress.org)
- UPDATE 1-Two oil spill response workers dead-Coast Guard (reuters.com)
- The BP Shakeup That Isn’t (tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com)