How To Screw Your Reputation Like BP

BP started ads addressing the 6 week old oil spill today.

As the Obama administration opens civil and criminal investigations into the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the party responsible for the spill, BP, has rolled out advertising addressing the crisis.

A full-page ad in today's New York Times shows BP workers on a boat somewhere in the Gulf, looking to contain the spill. Copy reads: “We will get this done. We will make this right.”

Text in the ad goes on to say the spill was “a tragedy that never should have happened,” and refers to the unsuccessful “top kill” operation. But the ad assures readers that BP employees are working “around the clock” to contain and collect most of the leak.

The ad is perhaps the first response by BP since the spill occurred on April 20. Though it contains the BP “Helios” logo, it doesn’t contain the tagline, “Beyond Petroleum,” which was developed a decade ago by Ogilvy & Mather. An Ogilvy rep declined comment, referring inquiries to BP reps, who didn’t return calls.

via BP Launches Ad Addressing Spill.

The point is 6 weeks is a lifetime on the Internet. Their reputation is totally screwed. I doubt they will ever recover their brand in my lifetime or anyone’s lifetime.

The bigger the disaster the faster you need to respond.

First you need to acknowledge the gravity of the situation. Say there is a huge oil leak.

Then apologize for the disaster.

Then act fast. Don’t turn down any offer. The public will think you don’t care.  Be open about what you’re doing. Accept help.

BP has royally screwed up. They are acting like a big corporation from the 50’s. They don’t understand social media, they don’t understand that need need to be open and honest and act fast. Coming out with a print campaign 6 weeks after the disaster is really too little, way too late. God help them because nobody on Earth is going to. They are toast.

Lesson learned:

The 3 A’s of reputation management: Acknowledge, Apologize, and Act. I tweeted it about a couple of months ago. No matter how big you are you can’t hide in this world anymore behind corporate structures.

BP needs to hire a social media specialist firm and start managing their reputation online, even though it is probably too late. Don’t take weeks to do the 3 A’s. Take 5 minutes if that in this fast paced world.