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A few weeks ago in Twitterland, tweets from the satirical @BPGlobalPR began cropping up with the hashtag #bpcares. The @BPGlobalPR tweets—minor caricatures of whatever ham-handed approach to crisis management the real BP PR team was trying that day—include lines like:
You don't go drilling 5000 feet underwater with the tools you want, you do it with the tools you have. Very basic tool logic. #bpcares
We don't want to alarm anyone, but the robot didn't get stuck. It stopped on its own accord and grinned at us. #skynet
I’ve read a bunch of articles and blogs about this whole situation by publicists and marketing folk wondering what BP should do to save their brand from @BPGlobalPR. First of all, who cares? Second of all, what kind of business are you in? I’m trashing a company that is literally trashing the ocean, and these idiots are trying to figure out how to protect that company?...
BP seems to only care about maintaining their image so they can keep making money, two things we have blatantly avoided. I don’t have an image and I’m not making any money AT ALL for myself. Every penny we make from the t-shirts goes to the Gulf Restoration Network. Just a few hours ago, we made our first official $10,000 donation to healthygulf.org from the money we’ve made selling free “bp cares” t-shirts in one week.
So what is the point of all this? The point is, FORGET YOUR BRAND. You don’t own it because it is literally nothing. You can spend all sorts of time and money trying to manufacture public opinion, but ultimately, that’s up to the public, now isn’t it?
You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand? Have a respectable brand. Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions. Lead the pack! Evolve! Don’t send hundreds of temp workers to the gulf to put on a show for the President. Hire those workers to actually work! Don’t dump toxic dispersant into the ocean just so the surface looks better. Collect the oil and get it out of the water! Don’t tell your employees that they can’t wear respirators while they work because it makes for a bad picture. Take a picture of those employees working safely to fix the problem. Lastly, don’t keep the press and the people trying to help you away from the disaster, open it up so people can see it and help fix it. This isn’t just your disaster, this is a human tragedy. Allow us to mourn so that we can stop being angry.
Josh Harkinson notes that BP is Beyond Preservation brand-wise. But the gist is good advice for all big corporations, no?