Sunday, June 27, 2010

BP Might Care, But Probably Not

If you haven't heard of it by now you're probably living under a rock. BP Global PR on Twitter is an extremely popular parody account. Started by an anonymous person on May 19th, the account is definitely a parody, though it gives no indication of being so. Currently it has over 179,000 Followers and tweets rather humorous PR-like statements regarding the BP Oil Spill.

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This brings into question, as a PR professional, how can you control a message in this situation? Is it even possible?! The account has been up for a month now, is still active, and seems to be prospering. On the other hand, BP_America the official BP account on twitter (for… America… wanted to point that out just in case) has only 16,000 followers and is mostly an object of ridicule in the Twitterverse.

What can be done? In this extreme situation, probably nothing, but it is an example of the worst Social Media job in the world right now, working for BP’s twitter.

UPDATE: @BPGlobalPR speaking at TEDxOilSpill on June 28th.

This guy speaking at TED today is famous for starting a Twitter account. He now donates money to charity and has become a famous tweeter - simply because he wanted to poke fun at BP. He says started the twitter account because he felt it was frustrating BP hadn't done anything yet and wanted to get information out there.

"People thought we were real! What does that say about America?," he says from under his ski mask,"We're to bad news, we're used to corporations responding poorly to bad news! We just expect it."

He continues, "Having a brand means you stand for something. If you lie, than lying is your brand."

Leroy: "I'm just a guy that had an idea and I ran with it."

He ends with a strong call to action, saying, "If you want to change things then face them dead on. If you think the status quo is unacceptable, then don't accept it. If we face the present that's the only way we're going to learn, progress."

At the end of his few minutes on stage Leroy concluded with a message to BP. "Your brand is dead," he says,"Get over it. Quit working on that and instead, work on fixing the Gulf! What if you said you were sorry and you meant it? What if you admitted your mistakes? What if you were genuine? [paraphrased]"

These are all great points, and I wonder why BP's actual PR weren't asking them of themselves. For me, it says a lot when a guy who started a Twitter account speaks at TED, rather than a supposedly innovative multinational energy company, like BP. Leroy of BPGlobalPR is right about one thing. BP's brand isn't dead, but it's crippled.

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