Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Advice To BP That It Didn't Ask For / from MediaPost

Dear BP,

Here's some advice you haven't asked for.

Yours truly,
The PR Industry

That's the column I would have written if I hadn't decided to take another tack. You see, writing a column can be a solitary affair, and exceptionally polarizing when tackling big issues. The impulse to take a position -- the more incendiary the better -- and hammer it home is powerful when composing in a vacuum (I imagine this is how, say, Ann Coulter feels on a regular basis).

But it's an inherently limited process, and yields a limited viewpoint. So with something as topical, heated and broad-reaching as BP's Gulf Oil Spill, I decided to open up the dialogue by inviting other brains to take part in what I consider an important discussion about a substantial PR crisis. Though there are significantly more pressing issues surrounding the spill (ask an Appilachicola oyster or the guy that makes a living farming them), this column will focus solely on BP's handling of the spill from a PR and communications perspective.

I invited PR industry and marcomm experts to share their views on the BP's actions -- good and bad. The interviews printed below were insightful and well-reasoned, but the overall result of my invitation was disappointing. Of the 46 responses I received from PR experts, only these four PR professionals offered meaningful commentary. The rest were either incoherent or self-serving babble -- no wonder BP hasn't solicited any advice from those "experts."

But they would be well served by listening to Brad Burns, Mark Tardiff, Rene Henry, and Dan Baum.

Brad is a principal at Revoltion and a former SVP of Corporate Communicaitons with MCI/Worldcomm; Mark is the Associate Director of College Communications at Unity College; Rene is the author of Communication in a Crisis, and Dan is CEO and Creative Director of DBC PR+New Media. My interview with them begins:

Gentlemen, how do you think BP is handling the current crisis, from a PR perspective?

To read their responses, click here.

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