Monday, May 03, 2010
How do you handle a seemingly unending crisis? This is the problem BP is facing as it tries to stop the leaks from its well in the Gulf of Mexico. From what I can tell, BP did most things right when it realized it had a crisis. It communicated openly and frequently. It did not hide from the news media. It requested help from anyone who could bring knowledge to bear on shutting down the spewing well and protecting the coastline. Yet, the well continues to gush thousands of barrels of crude a day into the sea. There is no simple fix for the problems the company is facing. Leaking might go on for weeks. Meanwhile, its reputation is taking a beating day after day, hour after hour. There is little the company can do except to forge ahead and try to find ways to shut the well down. How would you lilke to be a PR spokesperson for BP now?
The PR Rep indeed is in a sticky situation. But aren't they usually walking a fine line, anyway? There are a lot of people who support the efforts to no longer be dependent on foreign oil, but do not think of the consequences, or the other side of the matter. I bet the same people who were supporting the "digs" are now thinking "What a mess." PR for BP, and the ongoing event shouldn't be a matter of looking for help, although it is an honest approach. They should have been prepared. Yes, they communicated their mistakes, but ultimately they should be expressing their plan to fix the mess, not searching for answers and pulling the innocent card. This is a serious situation and BP should have emergency plans, back up plans, on site engineers, etc. To think they are invincible was a bad choice, and unfortunately they are not the only ones paying for it. Their PR now should remain honest, of course. But like you stated in a previous post, PR focuses on the facts. The fact of the matter here is they screwed up, big time.