Could PR industry do some crisis PR in post-BP mess?

Now that the BP oil leak has been stopped —or so we hear today — has anyone considered that it may be time to create some good juju for PR, after what BP has successfully done in maiming the industry?

Many of us PR and non PR types have railed against the dark stain that BP’s oil spill is leaving. I have tremendous respect for those who handle corporate PR whether they are consultants or internal PR folk. It’s a tough job getting the organization to say it as it is, and to stop publishing mindless statements just for the sound-byte effect.

So I was hoping to see a coalition of PR agencies coming together, perhaps under the umbrella of PRSA, and the CIPR (British PR association), to bring in some of the largest booms (thought leaders) and heavy equipment (smart technologies) to stop polluting our pristine beaches (er, reputation).

PRSA’s mantra is “Advancing the Profession and the Professional.” Looks like the industry has been mugged by flaks who are effectively planting land mines along this path. Search for BP at PRSA’s web site and you see articles such as “Can the BP brand survive Tony Hayward?” I was hoping to see some folks come out say why “BP’s PR has been toxic for their business.”

Meanwhile BP continues to write about its wonderful response about how it is “Flying higher to get closer to spill response,” and its sea bird rescues.

And nobody in the PR industry seems to mind.

Should BP spin its wheels on its pesky little PR problem?

I bet this will be question that many presenters on crisis communications and PR turn to –at the IABC World Conference in Toronto this week, and many other events.

Variations of this question could come range from “can social media rescue a company’s reputation,” to “Is this a warning shot for corporations dabbling in social media?”

You could say BP which has the  nation’s largest environmental crisis on its hands should ignore the PR disaster they have inherited (as Len Gutman at ValleyPRBlog noted, “There are some things PR can’t fix”) and stick to fixing what it has wrought. It’s near impossible for them to address the ‘wisdom’ of the passionate crowd leveraging new media.

Take these responses to the oil spill:

BP Logo

  • The BP Logo Redesign Contest. I’ll don’t need to tell you what this means in a Web 2.0 world where images are shared, commented on and archived forever.
  • Wikipedia edits. Lots of activity on the discussion pages of BP’s Wikipedia page, where editors this week seem to be dredging up –still unpublished– unsavory details of cancer etc.

In the face of all this, what in the name of crisis communications is the value of the full page ad in the New York Times, and some of those TV spots? Is there any value in using old media Tylenol-type tactics to fix the situation BP is in? I recall BP used to run a great series of ads, when it was re-branding, that said things like “It’s time to go on a low carbon diet.”

I think its time for BP to go on a low PR diet!