It started a few days ago when I saw a blog post about BP missing an opportunity on social media because the company was not totally engaged. A twitter account that looked just like a legitimate BP account has been tweeting “tongue in cheek” posts and was becoming viral with follower numbers climbing exponentially. The account was clearly not by BP and the post chastised BP for not taking the opportunity to utilize social media as they navigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. There was a pretty lengthy discussion in the comments section and a large number of tweets and RT’s about the post.
I couldn’t help feeling, as I read it all, that the discussion was really missing something very critical. To have a discussion about the “management” of BP’s public image in the aftermath of this oil spill is so out of bounds to me. Did we discuss how Ted Bundy managed his image during his trial for the vicious murder of a number of young women? Did we consider how the Oklahoma City bomber or the Twin Towers terrorists managed their images? Then why is this any different? 11 people died on that exploding oil rig. Countless numbers of creatures will die covered with that horrendous oil slick. And who knows if the people who’s livelihood depended on fishing in that area will ever be able to go back to their work again. Yesterday, I heard that the entire Gulf will be forever changed because much of the Gulf sea life begins in that area and then migrates throughout. If the area is destroyed or entire populations of sea life eliminated then that is perhaps a permanent elimination of some of the creatures there.
Clearly, the executives and others at BP made decisions before the beginning of this crisis with an understanding that there was significant risk involved in what they were doing. Essentially, they just didn’t really care. They gave a big old middle finger to just about everyone as their greed and selfishness guided their choices. Sure there is some outrage among some. And probably just about everyone has had a brief exchange about how terrible this is. But instead of using this as a teachable moment about “damage control” and utilizing the latest tools in social media, why aren’t we having lengthy discussions about how a company could get away with such a total lack of ethical and civic responsibility? Why aren’t we using every PR/Marketing tool at our disposal to send a message to BP and every other company out there that doesn’t understand what corporate social responsibility (csr) is and putting intense pressure on them to NEVER conduct themselves in this manner again? It is time for WE THE PEOPLE to be mad as hell and convey in no uncertain terms to EVERY company in this country that we really are NOT going to take it anymore.