Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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September 10, 2010

readings in social media for september 10th 2010

Karen Freberg Teaching on-line

Teaching, communicating and inspiring students on-line is part of the new P.R.

Here are a few stories that  am reading today:

“What’s useful about the microsite is that it allows followers to hone in on the topics they’re most interested in, whether that’s runway news, designer interviews, beauty trends or behind-the-scenes gossip. For those who aren’t interested in following Fashion Week minute-by-minute, Twitter has also made it easy to catch up with daily recaps and archived footage.”

“Some of the most innovative brands have already begun to experiment with lesser known social platforms that cater to targeted audiences and test the waters of new advertising models. Many of these campaigns are pure trial-and-error efforts, and there certainly aren’t any one-size-fits-all solutions out there.”

“BP’s long-awaited internal report on what it believes went wrong when a rig exploded and started the massive Gulf oil spill never mentions the words blame, regret, apology, mistake or pollution. The word fault shows up 20 times, but only once in the same sentence as the company’s name.”

Shifting the blame & missing crisis communication opportunities with social media: BP Oil Spill Case (2010)

The BP Oil Spill has indeed surpassed even Exxon-Valdez as being the worst environmental disasters in US history.  However, when you look at how they not only handled their social media and public relations practices, but their crisis communication message strategies – you have to wonder what they were thinking. 

BP recently came out with their report on what happened during the oil spill that let about 206 million gallons of oil pollute the Gulf of Mexico. Communities and their residents were upset and vocal on what they thought about BP and the situation – and went to traditional media outlets to raise these concerns, but also went to various social media platforms as well.  This spill not only impacted the food industry in the Gulf (ex. seafood) and devastated the environment, but also negatively impacted businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and others in the tourism industry in the surrounding areas. 

What is still amazing to me as someone working and studying crisis communications, is the lack of responsibility and acknowledgement of wrongdoing by the corporation.  In the report according to a news article from Yahoo!, BP does regret what happened during the oil spill, but did not offer any apologizes.  Instead, BP shifted the blame on other corporations who where also part of the spill.  One of the fundamental things that we are taught in crisis communications is to take responsibility for our actions and make sure that we are doing whatever it takes to make sure that this does not happen again.

Based on these public relations and crisis communication message strategies, it appears to me that BP does not really want to restore their corporate reputation among their stakeholders.  It seems that they are doing basically the opposite of what crisis communication professionals advocate for in both in the classroom as well as in practice and research.  This case will continue to grow and be discussed for years to come as an example of a PR nightmare – both in how BP handled the crisis in traditional media and face-to-face situations, as well as how they missed many opportunities in their digital PR and crisis communication efforts.

These are just a few of my thoughts on the subject.  Hope you all are having a wonderful day!

Best Wishes,



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