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Posts Tagged ‘BP’

DOJ Slaps BP Hard with Negligence Charge

Tony Hayward finally got his life back, thanks for asking. According to recent profiles, the former beleaguered CEO of oil leader BP PLC is making the most of his moment away from the PR spotlight by spending some “me time” hanging out on yachts, starting new businesses and making massive distribution deals with oil-rich Middle Eastern nations like the ever-pleasant Iraq.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for his former company. The United States Department of Justice just hit BP with a “gross negligence” charge relating to the big Deepwater Horizon Gulf spill that happened way back in 2010 (remember those heady days of first-stage Bieber Fever and Tea Parties celebrating tri-corner hats?). The trial is set to begin in January, 2013. Everyone let out a collective groan.

This development is only the latest in a series of very large-scale PR challenges for BP, but it represents the most extreme position taken so far by the American government, whose lawyers are effectively throwing up their hands and saying “let’s do this.” The announcement all but erases the possibility of an out-of-court settlement—and it’s especially harsh considering recent speculation that oil still submerged from the spill washed ashore during Hurricane Isaac last week.

Try to determine the mindset of the government lawyer who wrote this line:

“The behavior, words and actions of these BP executives would not be tolerated in a middling size company manufacturing dry goods for sale in a suburban mall.” Ouch!

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Olympics Ads Boost Brand Perceptions for BP and Others

A recent survey conducted by YouGov BrandIndex in order to gauge the public’s perceptions of Olympics advertisers may prove that the coveted ad slots and expensive sponsorships are worthy investments, especially for certain brands with PR problems.

According to Ad Age, surveyors posed the same question for each brand: “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?” YouGov then derived scores ranging from 100 to -100 by subtracting negative feedback from positive (For instance, a score of zero means a brand received equal parts positive and negative feedback).

Oil company and international pariah BP, whose public image has soured since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf Of Mexico, reportedly saw its score jump from a negative 5.9 in the week prior to the Olympics to a positive 2.6 during the first week of the games thanks to ads like this one. Only Visa, which, according to YouGov, spent $100 million to be a “Worldwide Olympic Partner”, saw its brand perception rise more during the same time period. Ted Marzilli, global managing director for YouGov’s BrandIndex service, told Ad Age, “We have seen the recovery with BP over the last year and a half…but I think its association with the Olympics is showing benefits.”

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BP Trying to Get Past the You-Know-What With Olympic Sponsorship

Among the many companies sponsoring this year’s Summer Olympic Games in London is BP, which is trying to use the event to further distance itself from the Gulf oil spill. And, in the process, proving that a company in a crisis just might throw anything out there in the hopes of cutting free from an atrocious reputation that’s sticking like a barnacle to the bottom of a ship.

But it’s hard to shake the Gulf spill when you hear stories about the devastating mutations in marine life, the ongoing legal battles, and see pictures like the one above, one of many just recently released by Greenpeace. (More here.)

Turns out, BP wasn’t the only energy company that thought an Olympic sponsorship would be a good corporate reputation tune-up. But what these companies could be doing is bringing down the Games rather than improving their images.

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BP Moving On, Still Dealing with Spill Repercussions

So just when you think there could be no more ink spilled about the BP oil spill disaster, there’s more.

We had news over the weekend that there’s a proposed $7.8 billion deal in the civil trial related to the spill, which BP would pay from $20 billion in funds set aside for claims and expenses. The New York Times says the initial reaction to the proposal has been positive. “It’s a good thing for BP because it is a good step forward,” said one hedge fund exec, Nancy Schmitt from Taum Sauk Capital Management, comparing this to the 20 years it took Exxon to resolve its spill case. “[A]s an investor, that’s what you want to see.”

And the plaintiffs seem to be warming up to it. So this is good. But, oh BP, there’s a but.

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BP CEO Continues the Company’s Crisis Response


The latest Gulf tourism ad, sponsored by BP.

In a kind of follow up to our “Lemons to Lemonade” year-end post, BP’s CEO Robert Dudley spoke on Friday, reaffirming the company’s commitment to the Gulf clean up. The Deepwater Horizon explosion happened in 2010, making this a nearly two-year-long crisis response.

“Every crisis is different, virtually every one. In this case, what we have done is learned and are putting in place new lessons around safety,” Dudley said.

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In a Crisis, Shift to ‘Sad’ Mode, Say Professors

The University of Missouri has come out with a study showing that when companies’ bad news is framed from a sad point of view, consumers are more forgiving of said company.

Someone should have told BP this news before National Public Radio declared its Gulf oil spill “a textbook example of how not to handle PR.”

Glen Cameron, the Maxine Wilson Gregory Chair in Journalism Research and professor of strategic communication at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and Hyo Kim of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore conducted the research. The University of Missouri’s news release said that in the study, one group read an “anger-frame” story blaming a company for the crisis. A second group read a “sadness-frame” story, that focused on the victims and how they were hurt by the crisis.

Certainly, this isn’t earth-shattering news, especially to those whose profession is public relations.

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Top 5 Cases of PR ‘Lemons to Lemonade’ in 2011

Many year-end listicles have focused on the top PR gaffes of the past year. However, the year has also shown the power to turn around a bad situation into good or, as the title of this top five list states, to turn PR lemons into sweet, refreshing public relations lemonade. Here are our choices for those instances where a fail was transformed into, as our contributor Nancy Lazarus calls it, a “tactful turnaround.”

5. Aflac Finds a New Spokesduck. After the voice of Aflac’s duck mascot, Gilbert Gottfried, was dismissed for making insensitive “jokes” about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March, the insurance company launched a nationwide search for a new mascot. Rather than settling for a public apology on behalf of its former spokesperson, the company turned the search into a PR campaign, with the New York Times covering the New York audition. We said then it would be a PR moment to remember, and we stand by that.

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BP Tries to Come Clean on Gulf Oil Spill Anniversary

Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP

Today is the one year anniversary of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig, which caused the deaths of 11 people and the largest oil spill in U.S. history. BP and its CEO Bob Dudley have used the anniversary to speak to the developments over the past year and to express the company’s ongoing regret over the spill.

The BP homepage has a message from Dudley front and center, with a longer column written by the chief exec published in today’s Wall Street Journal that talks about the funding BP has chipped in to correct the problems caused by the spill, increased safety measures implemented, and new experts that have been brought on board to ensure that an accident doesn’t happen again. A video on the BP site also discusses what has happened over the past year.

We recently reported that BP’s reputation, while still pretty bad, appears to be on the upswing. BP’s efforts may deserve part of the credit. But other forces seem to be aiding the oil giant in its reputation recovery.

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BP’s Reputation on the Mend?

New Orleans cleans up after Mardi Gras. Photo: Patrick Semansky / AP

As of October 2010, BP‘s CEO Bob Dudley was talking about rebuilding the company’s reputation after the Gulf oil spill. Though we may be feeling the ill-effects of this horrible, tremendous disaster for the foreseeable future, people are starting to feel better about BP for some reason.

According to YouGov BrandIndex, BP’s buzz score rose nearly 12 points between January and February 2011, handing it the top spot for biggest buzz improvement of the month. Sentiment surrounding the company is still negative at -15.7. But, according to BrandIndex, BP’s buzz score was -67.2 last June.

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BP Will Rebuild Its Reputation and Drill Some More

Speaking with business leaders in London, BP chief executive Bob Dudley said the company has learned lessons from the massive Gulf oil spill and, oh, yeah, they’re going to keep drilling.

According to the BBC, Dudley’s speech came with a vow to rebuild BP’s reputation. To that end, Dudley went on to take credit for things that it did after the spill as part of its response for the spill it caused.

“The first thing to say is that we have stopped the leak and made huge progress in cleaning up the spill,” the BBC quotes Dudley saying. Like, he actually said that.

“Second, our containment and clean-up efforts have gotten results,” he added. “Third, we are meeting our commitments as a responsible party of this accident.” (Notice: “a” responsible party, rather than “the” responsible party.)

Dudley then reaffirmed the company’s commitment to the U.S. by saying that the company is part of the “American community” and will return to its drilling operations as soon as it’s allowed.

It’s been many months filled with angry outpourings from government and concerned citizens and these statements still don’t acknowledge the magnitude of the spill, the company’s role, or why people are angry. BP has to do better.

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