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Gini Dietrich

What Does BP Do Now?

By: Gini Dietrich | January 6, 2011 | 
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The Arment Dietrich Facebook question of the week comes from Jamie Sandford who asks, “What does BP do, from a PR perspective, now that the oil crisis is over?”

My answer is in the video (along with what the heck is going on with all these dead birds?!), but I’d love to know if you agree or not. And if you’re getting this in your Reader and can’t see the video, click here for the magic to appear.

Oh, and, I think I’m out of questions so go post one on the Arment Dietrich Facebook wall already! Oh wait. I have a video for next week (introducing our new chief content officer), but then I’m out. So skedaddle over there!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

30 comments
dinodogan
dinodogan

Hello pastling…my name is Dino and I hail from the future.

Our records indicate that the oil spill you reference in your video has been swept under the rug and Exxon the corporation, recovers just fine…ahhmmm, sorry, my mistake. You spoke about BP…yes, they recover as well.

Our records indicate that in both cases the complacency and Kim Kardashian are to blame for people getting on with their lives as if nothing had happened.

Small correction in your statement. Accenture broke up with Arthur Anderson 1 year before it all went down and filed for a change in name approximately 2 yrs before. At least that’s whats on the official record but since backdating was a practice perfected by ENRON lackeys not even us futurians can be entirely sure.

One thing is for sure however. All of these are evil corporations who put profits above human dignity and they all perish in the great uprising of 2016.

Checking the historical records for the weather on 1/11/2011 it will be very windy in Chicago but not because of the squall. (hint: its coming from the mayors office)

martinwaxman
martinwaxman

Thanks for the shout-out. And Happy New Year!! (It's not too late). With regards to BP, they sure have been silent. Reminds me of the old school approach to communications: ignore it and it will go away. That doesn't work anymore (and I'm not sure closing one's eyes ever did).

Ike
Ike

What does BP do now?There are so many audiences for that question, it's little wonder that we're seeing such divergent responses.

The smartest thing BP did during this entire crisis was put that camera underwater, and show the live stream of crude. Because suffering those weeks of hell led to a payoff, once there was visual confirmation that the leak was capped.

For 99% of the world, the crisis was over then, and they moved on. So any wide-ranging PR broadcast campaign might be counterproductive scar-removal.

http://ike4.me/o138

a_greenwood
a_greenwood

Exxon recovered, big time. BP may have to rebrand, but I don't see large relative consequences. I covered this ad nauseum (as it transpired) on my blog--you just reminded me to revisit it!

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Such good comments. Your rebranding point was good, but people have short-term memories. Yes there are those who will shun BP but then others who know someone who run a mom-and-pop quickie mart selling BP-branded gas, who need the business. IDK but many people's convenience and apathy will win out, sad to say so I agree with @HowieG Lack of understanding of the process.. how regulations and politics and campaigns all are made, inforced (or not), I think some of that is beyond the average consumer, myself included.

I think what they need to do know is watch, listen and learn.. then get out there. The crisis is not over, and the lawsuits and process claims is set to be an even worse PR disaster. There was an interesting story in @the new york times about proximity claims, which could bankrupt the company. I think I read maybe @usatoday about how the process doesn't always seem transparent, when some tipped casino employees can win their claims, others can't. BP needs to change management, learn from their mistakes and start with some transparency. Make genuine improvements in their safety and refining methods, stop hiding, make real strides to help those hurt by this. Not because it's good PR or the social thing to do, but b/c they screwed up and that's what you do: you fix your mistakes. FWIW.

rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel

My question is, does it matter? Will their sales really be inversely impacted when our appetite for oil remains the same? I am sort with HowieSPM on this one.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I don't think they need to do anything. The Oil Firms have been environmental disasters for this planet. In many countries they assist (through money) in the brutal oppression of the people. We still buy Exxon gas after what happened in Alaska. What I think they will do is change the name of their stations and thats it. Many Branded Gas stations sell gas made by Oil Refining companies. Many refining companies buy oil from Oil Producing companies.

During this crisis I still saw people at the local BP gas station getting gas. This country is the dumbest country on the planet when it comes to gas. I have had really smart friends and family drive a few miles to save 0.02 per gallon for a 13 gallon car. Yet they don't blink at paying $5 for a coffee at starbucks. Half the country is pro-pollution and destroying the environment. The Gulf States in 2010 elections re-elected all the anti-environment pro-drill baby drill congresspeople and senators. My heart bleeds for the animals that get screwed but the people got what they deserve and I am sure they will patrnize BP or whomever sells their oil.

I had a friend who worked for BP in California. She used to be in charge of oil spill response in the Pacific for the old Arco then got into government affairs. BP spent $1mil to kill a California bill that would of cost them $14mil to meet the regulations.

What BP must change is the safety rules and how things are run to ensure another event doesn't happen. I spent 7 years in the Oil Industry. I have driven and walked all over Refinieries in Los Angeles - Mobile, Chevron, Texaco, Unocal (pre-mergers) etc. The workers wear NoMex suits. I asked will it save them from being burned? They said it only gave them a running chance. They have fires and gas releases every so often in the communities and get massive fines when they do. So trust me the workers care about safety number one. The management...not always.

jsandford
jsandford

Hi from Birmingham, Gini, and thanks for taking on the question. As a property owner on the Gulf, I'm very curious to see what BP does to try to recover. Ecologically, it is going to take years for our white sand beaches to recover (I took Chris Brogan to them when he was down recently: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkeouZNRBrM). We have gone through the claims process initially set up by BP and now managed by the U.S. government. Sidenote: I *will* have to say that the BP process was quicker than the government's.

Looking at the microcosm down here, there is still a good bit of ill will toward BP. You'll see BP stations with very few cars filling up, however, the other company-branded gas stations are seeing customers. We are still trying to stress that it's not bad to buy merchandise from these BP-branded stores, as the gas itself comes from BP, but the taxpaying owners of the convenience stores are locals and their income comes from the products inside. If we shut them down, the local tax base goes too.

But much like the Exxon Valdez disaster, there will be people who will forever more bypass a BP station in the region. They've changed the way of life for many and decimated a local economy in 2010. We'll see what 2011 holds.

I'm interested to see what other PR professionals commenting have to say...

Jamie

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

Those birds are freaking me out! Very odd...and quite the segue to your question this week. I think that BP (IMHO) can actually recover from this, but not immediately. They will need to do a massive organizational revamp (out with the old, in with the new) in a very secluded Camp David kind of way, then emerge from the ashes (bad analogy) with a new face and stronger leadership. In addition to the many years of paying out to the Gulf residents, they should maintain a local presence that does not go away when the oil goes away (and that could be years), establish an environmental stewardship foundation (providing grants to sustainable efforts throughout the Gulf), an environmental scholarship program (available to students throughout Gulf universities and colleges), and a small business incubator fund for all the many fishermen and related industries so hard hit by disastrous management and presence. To fully recover, I would imagine a brand repositioning as an industry leader who is able to balance their profit goals with their environmental and safety goals.

And of course, they need to hire a kick-ass PR firm!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@dino_dogan You are a freaking riot! How did you know we plan on having Global Domination by 2016? Are you joining us?!

Ike
Ike

@martinwaxman Well, "silence" is better than letting Tony Heyward go all "Open Mic Night" at the Messaging Slam.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@LFJeremy Born in New Orleans, I have family and friends on the Coast and while I agree with you.. I know people who go to church or are friendly with the "independent" BP owners in that area, so don't want to begrudge them their livelihood either. The sentiments will be hard to change no doubt.. but time and distance will play a factor. A rebranding, some goodwill via local PR and social efforts.. folks in the area may be less quick to forgive and forget, but those not directly involved .. I'm just not sure. JMHO.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@Ike I agree with you...I think a wide-ranging PR program now is a little too late. I still think there may have to be some kind of name change or complete operations overhaul if they're going to maintain any profitability...and that's where the PR comes in.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@rustyspeidel I don't know. From a PR/branding perspective, I think it does hurt their sales because they have such a sorely negative image now. But I've been wrong before. It's seldom, but it does happen.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@HowieG Yes...just like Arthur Anderson changed their name to Accenture.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@jsandford It's pretty hard for me to comment on something like this, not being anywhere near the coast or experiencing it like you did. From a PR perspective, the work they did was a little too late. I think @EricaAllison is right in how they'll recover.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@EricaAllison I think you're right. That CEO who said he just wanted to get on with his life still pisses me off. To Davina's point ( @3HatsComm ), people have short memories, but I do wonder if, while the boycotts may have disappeared, the brand image is destroyed. What you describe is how they can move beyond it.

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