PR giant Brunswick Group will handle British Petroleum’s PR strategies in the months to come, Politico reports. The publication describes the future campaign as “aggressive.” For BP’s sake, I can only hope that Politico just used a figure of speech.
British Petroleum is in no position for aggressive PR campaigns. What they need is a advocate/relationship management type of approach, and as much transparency as possible for a company in their position. So far, BP’s response to questions regarding the massive Gulf oil spill they caused was vague, and lacked transparency.
Hopefully Brunswick Group will have the common sense to advise BP to take a different approach, and work with the media on this one.
What companies of this caliber fail to understand is that the truth will come out sooner or later, at the hand of a stubborn, investigative reporter who aims for a Pulitzer, for example. In the end, the role of the media is not to crucify companies, but to serve the public interest. And the public interest is synonymous with the truth (or should be, in an ideal world).
Sure, crucifying a company of BP’s status will sell thousands of copies. But no self-respecting publication in the world would do the crucifying without solid proof, if you know what I mean. A PR company, no matter how skilled, cannot hide the facts.
They can only work with what they are given, set reputation management strategies, and crisis management strategies that serve the interest of their employer. If to do so they engage in bad practices, they risk their own reputation.
For a giant like Brunswick Group this is a short term proposition. For BP this campaign could mean the beginning of the end, if not handled carefully.
The chairman of BP America, the CEO of Transocean and a Halliburton executive will testify Tuesday in front of the Senate Environmental and Public Works committee, Politico reported. That’s where PR has little impact. The media attention will follow after these testimonies, and BP is now prepared. So far the company acknowledged that it is responsible for cleaning up and mitigating the economic impact of the oil spill. It already paid out 295 claims to the tune of $3.5 million — mostly to local businesses that have suffered from the spill.
“We’re really focused on the response and what’s going on,” David Nagel, the company’s executive vice president and top lobbyist, said. “The oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico is really important for the United States and what we have to figure out is what happened here, take the lessons, adopt them across the industry and make sure that this can’t happen again so that the country can continue to use this oil and gas.”