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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BP hitting it hard.

On the damage control front that is. I was talking with a pro-BP friend over the weekend who tried to elicit sympathy for the shell-shocked company by saying it could have happened to anyone. It’s a simplistic argument that while true technically, is disingenuous and really moot, because save for Chevron’s minor spill, the scale of BP’s situation is simply not happening to anyone else right now.

I don’t doubt that a lot of people who work for BP like Darryl Willis, and who live in the Gulf states are upset over this. You watch the spot and think they really are trying to help those who’ve lost their income suddenly. (Some would disagree. Even the president.) The spot then makes a point about paying all associated costs until everything’s clean, which made me wonder about a shellfish industry that will likely take years to come back in the meantime. As such, this move by BP seems like an attempts to defuse the ire of the locals and nation at large: You really can’t get mad at your neighbor if you’re all in *this* together.

Except, a little thing like disabling comments on YouTube just screams more of the same old PR damage control 101 blast it out messaging. I’m not privy to the course of action that Ogilvy PR has advised them to take—few are—and clients typically do whatever they want regardless of how much you try to convince them otherwise, but that little move speaks volumes. For all the talk in social media circles of transparency, just let people vent. You don’t have to respond to any of them, but the last thing anyone wants to feel is that nobody’s listening to them, all because you blocked their ability to comment. This also makes it hard to “Friend BP on YouTube,” as the ironic caption popping up in my recently viewed section there implores.

So much for sympathy.

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