- Picture of the Gulf after the oil spill
The BP oil spill has destroyed an ecosystem and has destroyed lives. The oil spill has gone down as the biggest since the Exxon Valdez spill in the 1990s. However, the BP oil spill is also considered one of the most poorly handled crisis from a public relations standpoint. Leaving many criticizing the companies every move. When a company as large as BP fails in the public eye, it is important that they seem human, instead of reinforcing the image of a large powerful company. BP is spending a lot of money to try and fix their image when they should be spending money to fix the situation and then use PR to prove that something is being done.
Despite how poorly BP’s public relations were after the oil spill, there were some positives. Purchasing ad space to have the BP website pop up when someone “Goggles” anything about the BP oil spill is an effecti
ve form of public relations. Many people are going to be searching BP on the internet using search engines like Google, and when they do, they will be directed to BP’s own oil response sites. According to MSNBC, “95 percent of BP’s search listings are rated very negative.” Instead of being directed to articles bashing BP, the purchased ad space can help BP give effective answers to the publics questions.
As soon as the crisis occurred, BP launched a 50 million dollar advertising campaign. The LA Times reported, “President Obama sharply criticized BP on Friday, saying the company should not waste millions of dollars on advertising and dividend payments when money would be better spent on people suffering from the oil spill.” The money spent on advertizing should have been kept secret. 50 million dollars seems like an enormous amount of money but when advertising and large company’s are concerned it should be seen as chump change. Many politicians spend upwards of 50 million dollars on advertising for their campaig
ns. According to the LA Times BP spent 4 billion dollars on an alternative energy advertising campaign before the oil spill even occurred. Instead of using a 50 million dollar advertising campaign to restore the company’s image, BP should use much more cost efficient ways. BP has reportedly lost 25 billion dollars since the incident. Where spending that kind of money may not of been an issue before, it certainly is now. Instead of literally throwing all your resources at the spill to show you care, show that you are spending money to actually fix the oil spill. The advertisements just show some companies heads talking about how they are going to fix everything. It might be more efficient to show how about video footage of things actually getting done.
It is also important to have one spokesperson and one face of the company. Multiple officials were talking to and appearing in the media through different outlets and it caused a lot out outrage. When asked about the declining value of its stock, BP reportedly responded, “The company is not aware of any reason which justifies this share price movement.” The publics view this kind of comment as BP ignoring the massive damage to the gulf and appear to care more about their shareholders than the people and animals who were ruined by the oil spill. The Guardian reported that BP’s CEO Tony Hayward attended, “a yacht race on the Isle of Wright, just 48 hours after a hostile interrogation by a US congressional committee on the Gulf Coast oil spill,” which has produced, “sharp criticism on both sides of the Atlantic.” These kind of statements and appearances make the companies priorities seem out of order. Although there could be thousands of BP employees working on fixing the oil spill, if the CEO who has been promising to fix the spill, appears in a news paper in a yacht boat race, it may send the wrong message.
If I was in charge of PR for BP during this crisis, I would of handled things very differently. However, the most important change I would make is the appearance that “everyone is human.” Its important for the public to see people working hard and caring about what happened. They shouldn’t see BP as a large powerful company, but instead as a bunch of hardworking individuals who made a mistake. I would also have the CEO or another higher up in the company appear in videos where he or she tells the truth. The brutal honesty of what is occurring proves that the company is not ignoring anything, and that they are fully aware of the mistake they made. If Tony Hayward starred an advertising campaign where he went through what exactly happened and what exactly was being done, the company would begin to re-earn the trust of the public. Allowing the public to communicate to the company with social networking sites and YouTube would also be a step in the right direction. These kinds of PR moves would not be in the absolute best interest of the shareholders but would be in the best interests in the company. You need the government, and publics backing to be a successful company during this kind of crisis. My moves would help repair the image of BP so that people can move on from the crisis. This will never go away until the gulf is clean and people allow themselves to trust BP again.
(how BP handled the oil spill)