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BP as a communication failure

I've been watching the people at BP say and appear to do all the right
things about the oil spill and it still doesn't feel right.

A good example occurred the other day on CNN. There was video of the
oil workers charged with the cleanup, sitting around outside looking
kind of disengaged and gesturing to the cameras not to film them.
Meanwhile, local business owners were saying bad things about BP and
its workers. And the BP spokesperson responded earnestly, saying that
if those bad things were happening, the company would look into it and
fix them.

Perfect, perfect PR. That is exactly what I would have told any
company to do when it is accused of wrongdoing.

But when I think about it, something is lacking here. Urgency. The
sense of urgency you get when you know that you did something wrong,
and you really, really have to fix it fast.

Here is a completely minor example in comparison.

One time I was carrying a glass mug full of juice from one room to
another as I tend to do, rather than just sitting down in the kitchen
and drinking it.

Somehow as I was walking I dropped the glass. I saw it go down, hit
the hard marble tile floor, and shatter in a million pieces. Glass
everywhere.

I ran for the paper towels. I wiped it as best I could. I vaccumed up
what was left (that didn't work very well). All the while, I
f-r-e-a-k-e-d out. Because there was glass everywhere, in my home, and
I imagined that someone would step on a piece of the glass and G-d
forbid hurt themselves.

Cleaning up that glass, for me, involved a serious sense of urgency. I
felt it and the people around me felt it. But that sense of urgency is
just not coming from BP.

An odd thing about this whole situation is that I used to really like
BP the brand. I guess this is a year for some of my favorites to fall
apart on the credibility side. Because Toyota was another one I used
to admire.

BP stood for the ability of an organization to take something
seemingly industrial, gross, unlikeable and un-evironmentally friendly
and transform that into a human, friendly face. It was a success story
to me. And I'm not saying their efforts right now are a total failure.
But tack they're currently taking - show calm, seem honest, seem
transparent - is not working.

Perhaps there is still time to turn things around. But what I would
say to BP is, step up the urgency on your communication efforts.
Create a "war room" with glass doors right at the site of the oil
spill. Night and day, let reporters watch what you are doing to fix it
- embed them the way they were embedded with the U.S. troops at war.
Invite the public to provide help in fixing the problem. For G-d's
sake, sponsor a contest or a scholarship!

Do whatever you have to do to communicate (and to act with) the
urgency that this situation demands.

(Please note that all views stated are mine alone and do not represent
those of any agency or organization.)

Posted via email from Think Brand First

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