Who hasn’t heard about Deepwater Horizon, offshore drilling and associated risks. BP has taken a toll. The value of its stock has been halved. So, rebuilding an image is urgent. As the Internet is becoming quite important in setting people’s opinion, it seems logic BP is turning to social media to rebuild their image. But apparently it is not that simple. BP’s social media campaign is going about as well as capping that well, says Eliot Van Buskirk on his blog. He points out that BP really only started the exercise about one month after the disaster. Prior to that, its social media presence has been rather limited. In researching for this entry, I ran into an article reviewing BP Social Media usage in mid 2008. Interesting to look at the conclusions.
There seems to be a general agreement though that this is failing. Over the last couple weeks I found a number of blog entries describing people’s feelings:
And this just to name a few that got published in June. If you ask me, it looks like they are not getting the message across. Mike Schwede published on May 25th an interesting analysis titled: “Quick Social Media Brand Analysis on BP”, clearly demonstrating the dive of the BP brand.
No manufacturing company is fully protected from a disaster. So, things may happen. What can we learn from this. First, building a good social media presence, by being out there, facilitates the communication when the disaster strikes. The social media experience is there, relationships have been established, followers are tuned in and a buzz is going on. That facilitates getting messages out. If up till then the communication has been open and honest, followers will believe the information being released. It is critical however to ensure that information remains factual and honest. In the BP communication, there is a feeling of downplay.
Apparently BP did contract Ogilvy PR agency at the middle of May to help them in social media communication. Interesting to note that their advise is “people demand hyper transparency. There are no more secrets anymore, don’t assume you can hide information.” Well, the amount of barrels released from the well had grown from 16000 to 60-100000 over the last three weeks. Are we now getting more reliable information?
What are you doing to include Social Media in your communication. Are you prepared for the worst? You may want to take some advise from the Wall Street Journal and Ogilvy, take a minute to review “Social Media and Crisis Management”