BP’s PR incompetence rivals their ability to cap an oil spill.

Adding to my outrage about the BP oil spill is my amazement at their incompetence at managing the PR crisis.  It makes me think that if they run their oil operations the way they have mishandled their public messaging, no one should be surprised that this disaster happened in the first place.  How clueless are these people?

A week or so ago, I published a  posting about their ridiculous banner ad campaign.  But this week we get comments from BP’s Chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg on how much BP cares about the “small people,” and CEO Tony Hayward’s “wanting his life back.”  Wow.  Just wow.

Over the last few months, BP could not have created a more compelling image as an incompetent, uncaring corporate behemoth if they wanted to.

I just read an interesting interview on the Mother Jones site with one of the many “PR experts” the media has trotted out to discuss this mess. Here’s the link.  He nailed it as an “unspinnable” crisis and points out what I have felt all along. They need to just provide transparency for the media, shut up and stop managing this like it’s a legal problem.

An analogy that comes to my mind is that PR crises are like waves at the beach.  If the wave is of a reasonable size, if you are reasonably skilled and you get out in front of it, you can ride it safely into shore.  But if it’s too big, you better dive underneath the wave or just get to the high ground and do it in a hurry.  In this case, it was tsunami.  They never had a chance to spin this thing.  Their best plan was to be completely open with the media, focus on solving the problem and leave the brand reclamation work to the new team of executives who will undoubtedly be brought in after the dust settles.

Bringing it back to the theme of my blog, BP out-thought themselves on this.  I can imagine a team of  marketing and PR people in a very tense conference room saying to themselves, “Hey! This is is an unparalleled PR disaster! We need an unparalleled response. People think we’re bad.  We’re not bad people.  Let’s get a campaign going that tells the world we’re not bad people.”

Wrong.  They needed someone in that room to say, “Guys…there’s nothing we can say that will change people’s opinions of us right now. They don’t want to hear a peep from us that doesn’t have to do with getting this thing plugged. We need to shut up and keep our heads down.”

That’s what I would have said.

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Cool tool: BlueSwarm Social Media

I just saw this interesting article on political campaigns using the BlueSwarm social media  tool for fund raising.

I have spent some time looking at the BlueSwarm website and this looks like an incredibly easy-to-use tool for charity, campaign and university fund raising using the power of social media.  As much as I have loved the idea of social media from the get-go, I think we’re all really starting to get our hands on ways to for a truly broad range of organizations to put the power of their constituencies to work for their brand.  This is exciting.

Don’t want to sound like a schill for them but here’s BlueSwarm’s url:

blueswarm.com

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Buzzwords on the march!

(For the whimsically impaired:  irony alert )

There are many people who are concerned that our business culture today has found it necessary to re-invent, morph or generally fracture the English language with a nonstop barrage of new buzzwords in order to provide new and more confusing ways of saying the same old thing.  My view is that buzzwords provide win-win methodologies for business people to impact productivity and grow their businesses. You might say I drank the Kool-Aid here a bit, but I’d like to take the opportunity to open my kimono and present for your consideration, my POV on the situation.  In the interest of valuing your limited time, I won’t attempt to boil the ocean in attempting to address the subject in its entirety, but I will offer these granular thoughts.

Clearly, the globalization, bifurcation and disintermediation of the new economy have created a paradigm shift in the way people and organizations conduct business today.  Rightshoring, downsizing, paperless offices and workforce virtualization, are megatrends that require a proactive sea change in the way we interface.  Face time is precious. Naysayers abound, but the point of view here is that buzzwords provide the nextgen communications tools that bleeding edge elites need to achieve mission critical objectives.  They enhance the user’s mindshare and thought leadership!

Buzzwords allow dynamic business leaders to break through the clutter, enhance workflow, and empower their organizations to think outside the box.  This is true for organizations in B2B and B2C markets as well as companies that compete in cross-platform environments no matter the bandwidth of the organization.

Buzzwords are ideal for any business communications environment as long their use is seamlessly customer-centric, market-based and client-worthy in synergistic ways that can help leapfrog the competition by streamlining messaging and helping enhance the user’s self image as someone who is a true “Solutionary.”

At the end of the day, buzzwords make the user sound smart and “with it.”  What else matters?

One should not conclude that buzzwords are a panacea, however.  Some tasks in the business world are a bit like herding cats and no amount of buzzwordistry can hide the fact that the organization is just in a flat out world of swirl.  Add to that the fact that frankly, some organizations are so lacking in vision, it makes the workplace environment seem a bit like working in a box of hamsters.

But in sum, a buzzword compliant work environment can in fact bring state-of-the art value-added messaging methodologies to the mundane tasks of day-to-day business discourse.

( I wrote this to poke fun at the folks I see that can’t string a thought together without some over-worked “bleeding edge”  buzzword. In writing this I became embarrassed to discover that I am far from immune to this assault on the King’s English)

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BP Flailing Away

Just saw this banner ad for BP on Greenvilleonline.com. It actually kind of infuriated me. They should spend their money fixing the dadgum thing, not trying to spin it. I think that is an example of bad decision making (again) from them. There are times in marketing and PR when the best thing to do is to just shut up and keep your head down. A feelgood web banner campaign just reflects their clueless arrogance.  The funny (but sad) thing is that the “Find out more” link doesn’t work. How ironic.

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Whoa! Been a while since I posted

I guess it is no coincidence that my postings to the blog stopped when I began working at CT&T. Starting up an electric car company has turned out to be an all-encompassing undertaking.

I think part of the problem is that I have felt that I need to have time for some observation or post of significant size. This idea has been abandoned, so I hereby pledge to post more frequently, but with more narrow focus. I need to make things do-able.

So, there you have it. The new beginning. I will leave you with an interesting quote I ran across in Rolling Stone magazine the other day: From Malcolm McLaren, punk impresario and creator of the Sex Pistols: “It was wonderful to be able to sell something that was horrible.”

Malcolm was quite an original thinker.

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Overthink in Overdrive

Wow.  I read this article (granted its a couple months old) about Peter Arnell’s rationale for a new Pepsi logo design.  What a load.  And to think, they got paid $1 million for this.  I wonder if anyone had the nerve to simply ask, “Yeah, that’s an impressive bit of mumbo-jumbo you threw at us, but do you have a version that doesn’t look like crap.”

This is just another example of why agencies and creative shops have lost so much credibility. It seems to me that  the fee was to pay for the tortured rationale, not the idea.  Here’s the link.

Tortured logic.

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Social Media = No ROI

Below is a link to a great article brought to my attention by the wise and talented writer, Dave Pool.

It makes a lot of great points about Social Media and how a lot people just aren’t really getting it as a marketing tool.  I have to include myself in this group. I’m not too proud to say I am new to this particular arena and still stumbling along in the dark.

This is true however:  It shows to me how agencies are still struggling with a tired business model that is becoming more and more out of step with the rapidly changing marketing landscape every day.

Here’s the link: The ROI for Social Media is Zero.

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