DobsonPR Says BP’s PR Hits Low as TV Ads Note Legal Claims & Brag About Cleanup as US Suffers

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PR executive Brian Dobson of DobsonPR.com says, “In effective Crisis PR, words and actions must align but BP is out of synch as it continues to fumble forward in one PR misstep after another, pledging to cleanup its oil spill damage to the economy and ecology of America, while going too slow on both fronts.”

Like many giant companies in crisis, BP was slow to act. When news breaks fast, companies that are slow to engage media with full, accurate communications, end up chasing the story in escalating efforts of damage control

“BP’s Crisis PR hit a new low with TV ads in which its CEO apologizes for BP’s massive oil spill but emphasizes it will pay what it terms legitimate claims, revealing a focus on potential litigation, while seemingly taking credit for mounting America’s biggest environmental cleanup effort, while not saying it is polluting USA shores,” said PR expert Brian Dobson of Dobson Communications, a public relations firm.

“In effective Crisis PR, words and actions must align but BP is out of synch as it continues to fumble forward in one PR misstep after another, pledging to cleanup its oil spill damage to the economy and ecology of America, while going too slow on both fronts,” said Dobson, experienced in brand building and Crisis PR for regional, national and global companies.

“This is not the time for BP to be warning Americans, it is the time for the company to be contrite and spending many billions of dollars now, to get things right,” said Dobson.

“In print and TV advertisements, BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, is the face of BP despite previously losing credibility in media interviews where he characterized the spill as tiny compared with the ocean, noted he expects illegitimate claims since it's America and portrayed himself as working hard and wanting his life back despite the tragedy of 11 workers losing their lives in the rig explosion at the outset of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Dobson.

“BP is out of touch with public concerns and chose to limit information about the spill while its wellhead spewed oil into US waters until government pressure led to more information flowing about the size of the massive spill. Belatedly but encouragingly, the US has stepped to the fore after initially letting BP manage the crisis, as President Barrack Obama has taken leadership, criticized BP and marshaled the clean-up effort,” said Dobson, who has been interviewed on National Public Radio, CNN News and others about BP’s PR.

“The BP ad says BP has taken responsibility to clean up the oil spill and helped organize the largest environmental response in America’s history at no cost to taxpayers. However, the reportedly $50 million BP is spending on ads, while insignificant to a company that earned more than $6 billion in the first three months of this year, shows a lack of understanding about the public perception of such spending, while many fishing industry workers claim BP is not reimbursing them sufficiently at this point,” Dobson noted.

“Like many giant companies in crisis, BP was slow to act. When news breaks fast, companies that are slow to engage media with full, accurate communications, end up chasing the story in escalating efforts of damage control,” said the public relations expert.

Before forming Dobson Communications, Dobson headed PR and on the crisis committee at a Fortune 50 company, then called American Brands and before that entered PR at the New York Stock Exchange during a securities industry crisis, and had been a journalist for Dow Jones and Reuters.

Based in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and online at http://www.DobsonPR.com, Dobson Communications has managed a variety of brand building PR campaigns in several sectors, and has handled PR in major crises for companies, including a major provider of vitamins in the USA, a lead supplier of blood in Japan, a major US food company and other clients in crisis situation, in addition to marketing and brand building PR. For information contact Brian Dobson at 203-613-2222 or email bd (at) DobsonPR (dot) com.
© Brian Dobson 2010

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