BP’s disastrous PR needed more than just refinement
“He wouldn’t be working for me after any of those statements.” – Barack Obama
There was nothing slick about BP’s media handling after an oil spill in 2010.
If your crisis management is so terrible that it provokes a public dressing down from the American President then you have a problem. And for BP boss Tony Hayward, his disastrous media appearances cost him his job.
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was headline news around the world for over 6 weeks as BP struggled to stop the leak and deal with the cleanup. Dreadful PR made their task even more difficult.
Hayward was dubbed the “Bumbler from BP” after several interviews where he appeared to downplay the impact of the disaster, declared that he ‘wanted his life back’, and was photographed in his spare time racing his Yacht through unpolluted blue seas. Contrasting against a backdrop of dead wildlife, ruined livelihoods and a blackened coastline, it’s understandable that many felt Hayward lacked an essential quality of a good PR practitioner- empathy. Hayward’s media appearances made it seem like he didn’t care about the lives of those impacted by the oil spill.