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Posts Tagged ‘Tony Hayward’

Former Associated Press Editor to Head PR for BP

Bp_1385932cIt’s a tough job, but someone with a solid journalistic background’s gotta do it.

Yesterday we learned that Liz Sidoti, most recently the national politics editor for the Associated Press, will now work as one of the top PR names at BP (that’s “beyond petroleum” to you).

In an email acquired by the Huffington Post, Sidoti told family and friends that she will be “managing a great group of professionals in the press shop, internal communications, speech writing and social/digital media sectors.”

True, but the most interesting part of this story will, of course, be her attempts to help BP shrug off its status as one of the world’s most hated brands.

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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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PR, Perfected: Getting the CEO Ready for Primetime

I’ve been touting the benefits of mediabistro’s premium AvantGuild membership for years. For $55 bucks you learn from the journalist perspective exactly how articles get assigned and why, you get discounts on classes and on other things like Zipcar memberships and health insurance, and a free subscription to either Wired, New York, W, or The Atlantic.

You also get access to “PR, Perfected,” a series of articles on critical issues in the business. With HP’s deposed CEO Mark Hurd firmly in the news, and BP’s Tony Hayward spun out of the news, the latest PR lesson, “Coach C-Suite Execs for the Spotlight” is particularly timely.

Though the article mainly applies to presentations, the advice works for all appearances including those with difficult Q&A portions. The CEO needs be thoroughly prepped, supported with visuals, and not stiff.

Ideally, a half-day of closed-door media training is recommended. Why closed door? Because it’s hard to hear a consultant tell you that you look shifty. Why several hours? Because it takes time to admit your flaws and adjust. A camera with instant playback is a must here.

This article and many more PR, Perfecteds are available here.

Reports: Tony Hayward Out as BP CEO

BP’s gaffe-prone CEO, Tony Hayward, could be out the door as soon as today, according to reports. The company has declined to comment on the potential management shake up, which would place Mississippi-born Bob Dudley into the role of chief executive.

Of course, many media outlets can’t resist noting that Hayward may now “have his life back” as the CEO publicly wished in early June. The question is: will the change help improve BP’s image?

RELATED: Rahm Emanuel Advises Against PR Career for BP’s Tony Hayward

Report: Here is Why BP is Working With Brunswick Group

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BP has engaged with a number of agencies to provide communications counsel in the wake of the oil spill that continues to wreak havoc on the Gulf Coast.

One of the firms, Brunswick Group, is known more for their connections in the UK then they are in the U.S. And while some publications have reported Brunswick managing director Hilary Rosen — who has worked with the Recording Industry Association of America and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — is leading the BP efforts, others have noted that agency partner Michele Davis [pictured] is leading the account.

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A reader sent in this article on the Brunswick and BP engagement from the German magazine Manager:

…since the start of the oil spill a team headed by Washington-based partner Michele Davis has been handling crisis communication, in the Gulf of Mexico region but primarily in Washington. “That is where you both win and lose the races,” says a PR manager.

The report also notes that the ties between Brunswick and BP run deep:

British public relations man Alan Parker, 54, founder of the PR agency Brunswick, used to assist Tony Hayward‘s predecessor Lord Browne, 62, on communication matters. Parker, a sort of Roland Berger of the UK, has close personal ties to the British establishment: Former prime minister Gordon Brown is godfather to his son William, and Brown’s wife Sarah used to work at Brunswick. The new prime minister David Cameron attended, like Brown, Parker’s wedding. And Parker has also taken his holidays with Cameron. Brunswick only became become big at BP under the oil firm’s new CEO Tony Hayward and his head of PR Andrew Gowers.

RELATED: Ogilvy PR Handling Social Media for BP

AP: At BP, It’s PR Versus Legal

The Associated Press tells PR pros something most of them already know: when it comes to crisis communications, it’s usually PR versus legal in terms of what the company can say and what they’d prefer to say.

From today’s story, “To lawyers, BP’s PR strategy isn’t puzzling,” we get the following, regarding BP:

Inside the company, experts believe, there is a natural tension between public relations people who want BP to project a positive image and lawyers who don’t want to be boxed into a corner.

It’s a balancing act with billions of dollars – perhaps even BP’s survival – at stake.

“BP must weigh the cost of admitting things that could be used against it later against the cost now of bad publicity,” said Michael Siegel, a University of Florida law professor and former federal prosecutor.

Hopefully that clears up a lot of Tony Hayward‘s “I don’t recall” statements during his recent testimony.

BP PR Gaffes Continue To Get Media Attention; Industry Execs Question Brunswick Group


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CBS News ran a segment almost entirely devoted to BP CEO Tony Hayward‘s PR gaffes last night. The segment comes after new advertisements running this week. Ad agency Purple Strategies created the ads and is working alongside the Brunswick Group, BP’s PR agency of record.

Advertising Age‘s Michael Bush revealed some additional information about Brunswick Group in a story today, although agency employees surprisingly had little to say to him on the record. Here’s Bush:

All of the industry executives and competitors of Brunswick that Ad Age spoke to, who all asked not to be identified, praised the shop for its work in the mergers-and-acquisitions, financial-communications, litigation, CEO-positioning and corporate-communications sectors. But a number of them questioned the decision to have the agency’s Washington office lead the crisis based on its size.

As Bush notes, these comments come from competitors, but the background is nonetheless seems to be on target.

RELATED: Kwittken On BP CEO: ‘I Think He Needs to Stop Speaking’

Will BP CEO Tony Hayward Be In Charge Much Longer?

After many public speaking gaffes, including the now infamous comment made last Sunday — “There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I’d like my life back,” many are wondering if BP CEO Tony Hayward will be on the job much longer.

In an op-ed today, the Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson asks bluntly, “Why is Tony Hayward still on the job?”

The New York Times
piles on:

Instead of reassuring the public, critics say, Mr. Hayward has turned into a day-after-day reminder of BP’s public relations missteps in responding to the crisis, which began six weeks ago and looks likely to continue well into the summer.

Do you think removing Hayward will change anything regarding the response efforts to the oil spill, or public opinion? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Kwittken On BP CEO: ‘I Think He Needs to Stop Speaking’


Aaron Kwittken, CEO of mid-size agency Kwittken & Co., appeared on CNBC this morning to talk BP and the Gulf Coast oil spill.

“You have to give (BP CEO Tony Hayward) credit for stepping out in front when a lot of CEOs hide in times of crisis,” he said.

However, now that he has stepped out, Kwittken says he needs to step back. “I think he needs to stop speaking and have others speak on his behalf.”

For now, Hayward is not stepping back. TVNewser has details on ABC News’ exclusive interview with him, which aired last night.

BP Issues ‘Blank Check’ For Local Marketing Around Gulf Coast Oil Spill

BP stands to spend a lot of money both cleaning up the massive oil spill in the Gulf Coast, as well as marketing for their brand and to help local and regional businesses affected by the spill.

On the marketing front, already BP has spent or plans to spend tens of millions of dollars. Rick Outzen says in The Daily Beast that BP is “secretly buying PR,” in part because the company’s name doesn’t appear in a TV advertisement to support regional tourism boards.

However, while the company’s name may not appear in the ad, it isn’t exactly a secret that states are asking BP for marketing dollars and that the company is funding them.

Here are the details on some of the local efforts by BP:

…the oil giant wants it local marketers to buy ads, distribute fliers at their stations, hold customer appreciation days and use BP-supplied talking points to build a word-of-mouth campaign to ‘diffuse or deflect negative commentary’ about the BP oil spill, according sources inside the oil industry.

More critically, BP has told its marketers that it will pay all the costs for the approved ads, fliers and postcards that are printed and distributed. Normally, BP pays only half of advertising costs the way a fast-food franchise and franchisee might split local marketing bills. In other words, the locals have a blank check to spread the BP gospel in their communities.

In addition, BP CEO Tony Hayward must also focus on internal communications to reassure staff during the crisis.

“I know that many of you have questions about how this incident will impact BP, your jobs, pensions, and our future plans,” Mr. Hayward said in an email sent to BP staff and obtained by The Wall Street Journal. “The strength of the BP balance sheet allows us to take on this responsibility” of responding to the disaster.”

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