“BP: Stock rises after it reports oil spill progress”
That’s the headline from a CNN story today.
And that’s the bottom line for BP executives. They can run all the TV ads they want, take-out all the full page print ads in the world, pour money into Google AdWords, and tweet until their heart is content, but it really all boils down to this:
Fix the oil leak, before you try to fix your reputation.
Even BP’s shareholders understand this simple concept. News that the oil company is making progress on the Gulf of Mexico leak, leads to an increase in share price. Fix the problem and shareholders will fix your stock price.
The problem is, BP is not fixing the problem fast enough. I’ve lost track of how many days this disaster has been going on, but it’s closing in on 50 and that’s simply unacceptable to even the most staunch BP supporter.
50 days X 19,000 barrels a day = the worst reputation crisis in recent history.
Not that BP had a great reputation to start with–none of the oil companies did. The memory of $4+ gallon of gas is still fresh in our memories. So are the $30 BILLION in annual profits! That’s a big number compared to the $1.25 billion BP has spent in an effort to stop the spill and clean-up the Gulf.
Look at Dell. Look at Dominos Pizza. Heck, even look at Tiger Woods. Would each of these “reputations” be on the road to recovery if they continued to provide lousy customer service, unhygenic pizzas, or continued to sleep with umpteen women?
Crisis communications is important, but even more important is actually fixing the problem. Telling the world that you care about the oil spill and will work to fix it, is not the same as actually fixing it. In the world of social media, any attempt to “spin” or talk in carefully prepared soundbites will become nothing more than ammunition for your detractors:
(a sample of tweets from the BP parody Twitter feed)
(img credit: Reuters)