The Public Relations Nightmare that is ‘BP.’

Public relations is a field that requires some contemplation on ethics and intent before one even sets out to practice or even study it. There is definitely a stigma on PR professionals being artists of “spin” and manipulation. Honestly, it’s my belief that we get a bum rap thanks to some very choice morons that go about their jobs in a completely unprofessional and, frankly, stupid, way.

Everyone knew the the British Petroleum PR team had their work cut out for them when the news of the Gulf oil spill broke. Off-shore was an issue that had been debated about for months, and they were the company to prove everyone arguing against it right. On top of that, they had a CEO that just kept putting his foot in his mouth. Again. And again. And again. But don’t you think that the extensive PR team (who worked for an oil company for God’s sake, shouldn’t they have been the best of the best?) should have known to tell Hayward to shut his trap after the FIRST gaffe, or at least the fourth!

But their CEO isn’t BP’s only PR catastrophe. They were also caught manipulating photos (rather badly, and more than once) that they were releasing to the public to assure us that they were doing everything in their power to rectify the situation. Yeah, sure. It just floors me that after all the other awful mistakes they’d made up to this pint, they still thought it would be a good idea to try to be anything but honest with the public. Oh, of course they came clean after the photos were exposed to be phony, but what else could they have done?

Frankly, this is one of the most poorly run campaigns in recent PR history, and I think BP should be (more) ashamed of itself. I for one am so grateful (are you getting the sarcasm?)  to them for showing the world that public relations can still be, in some cases, a complete sham.

For some laughs, check out the satirical BPGlobalPR twitter.

Featured image courtesy of Fibonacci Blue of Flickr, via Creative Common license.


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Another Book Fair shot.

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