The other day I ran across this post by David Deal of Razorfish discussing if companies like BP are immune to negative social media press. My personal thoughts are that initially, BP is too big to really be hit hard financially with the negative press, threatening Facebook groups and uprise among consumers. Sources have stated that even the adament boycotts really won't cut into BP's current bottom line. However, the company has a long term image to improve to sustain itself as one of the world's largest brands down the road. After being seemingly dismissive about being responsbile for one of the largest oil spills in history, how would this be accomplished? It will take more than just an apology that an "unfortunate event" happening or even paying reparations to individuals who've lost business in the Gulf as a result.
Maybe a simple "We screwed up. We suck." approach to a PR campaign could revive trust in the audience?
I believe that the majority population is outraged enough at the company to not drink the Kool-Aid BP may try to force feed us about their image. Taking a different approach could do wonders for their image ironically enough.
A Lesson From Jim Joyce
One of the hardest things in the world to do is admit that we've made a mistake. Not to shift blame or dodge around the issue but outwardly say "Hey, we screwed up." However it can gain respect. Just take a page out of Jim Joyce's terrible call, one that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. He could have very well dodged the media and hid in a dark closet curled up in the fetal position until it all blew over.
Instead he took the road less traveled by sporting officials. He publicly admitted he blew it. And defined how well he knew how those actions affected others (Galarraga).
How was he rewarded? With overwhelming respect. People viewed his move as a "class act" because of his genuine and sincere act of humbleness. Even Galarraga showed his forgiveness at the following game by handing him the game card and a handshake.
Had BP taken the self-deprecation stance sooner, they wouldn't give the faux Twitter account @BPGlobalPR near as much ammo. This Twitter account, which has gained nearly 177k followers at the tiem of this post, has gotten noteworthy coverage and interviews with countless mass media outlets. They have taken a position portraying BP as blatantly not caring about the situation - but to an extreme (hopefully). With a more humbling, self-deprecating PR approach, this Twitter account more than likely wouldn't have quite the clout that it does as of now.
Self deprecation isn't a new concept. Celebrities and politicians have taken that road through acts like starring in SNL skits poking fun at them. It's also a strategy that Avis Car Rentals has somewhat used in their "We try harder" campaigns. They recognize that they aren't the best car rental company out there. But hey - they are at least trying harder right?
"A" for effort.
So the ball is now in your court. What do you think? Is BP doing a good enough PR job? (try not to laugh too hard at that question). Would some humbling, self-deprecating "We blew that one" do the company image some good?
If self-deprecation isn't the answer, what is?