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The Virtue of BP's Non-response

Why the PR Problem Is Not the Problem

By Published on . 3

Josh Bernoff
Josh Bernoff
A Twitter account called @BPGlobalPR has been trashing and mocking BP for a while now. The new development is that he's blogging about what he's doing and why.

What should BP do about this?

Nothing.

BP's first job is to fix the spill. Any other activity now is pointless and won't help.

The PR department at BP's job is describe, accurately, what they are doing. Any attempts to spin are pointless and will backfire.

BP could sue and get the Twitter account closed, maybe. The publicity about this suit would hurt more than help. If they were successful, the tweeter would just pick another handle. Hence: do nothing.

BP is twittering and there is a very nice Facebook page for Deepwater Horizon Response. Better to have them and connect through them than not, but every drop of oil that spills or lands on beaches does more damage than any amount of social outreach. This problem cannot be solved by social technology.

Social can't solve problems that come from customer (or environmental) abuse. Your company has problems, too, although it can't possibly be worse than BP's problem. If lots of your customers are upset, for every dollar you spend on fixing your image or social outreach, spend ten or a hundred dollars on fixing your customer problem.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Bernoff is co-author of "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies," a comprehensive analysis of corporate strategy for dealing with social technologies such as blogs, social networks and wikis, and is a VP-principal analyst at Forrester Research. He blogs at blogs.forrester.com/groundswell.
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