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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/27/10

BP - 11 Lessons

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Follow Me on Twitter     Message Matt Eventoff

The disaster has taken a turn for the worse today, just as BP put Gulf Coast native and BP executive Bob Dudley in charge of the cleanup effort. The last few weeks have certainly dropped communication expectations, and everything that has appeared in print with regard to Mr. Dudley indicate he will do a much better job than his predecessor.

11 More Steps BP can take right now:

(1.) Actions speak louder" Stop Talking Communicating is always preferable to silence, except when it is covering up inaction or irresponsibility. If you have nothing good to say, say nothing. Following Mr. Hayward's latest testimony before Congress, the public is no longer listening;

(2.) The whole truth"What You Say - "We are a responsible party. Our obligation is to deal with the spill, clean it up and make sure the impacts of that spill are compensated. And we're going to do that." The two words that followed, both from BP CEO Tony Hayward and BP America President Lamar McKay undermined that entire message: "Legitimate Claims." This word combination completely neutered the effectiveness of the earlier message and has been derided repeatedly in the media.

(3.) And nothing but the truth" How You Say It BP America President Lamar McKay, in an exchange with Senator Maria Cantwell, looked and sounded a lot more like a defendant on trial than the President of one of the world's largest companies. BP CEO Tony Hayward was abrupt when answering questions in front of the House this week, answering some version of "I don't know" 66 times" Not good.

(4.) So what to do" Restructure Leadership, Immediately-- If the faces of the disaster don't change, the reputational damage won't change. Right now, the "faces" are damaged wildlife, angry elected officials, and current BP leadership. As of today there are conflicting reports as to who is in charge not exactly reassuring to the masses"The change that came today comes on the heels of a similar change last week that caused a great deal of confusion. BP handled today's switch much more effectively. STEP TAKEN

(5.) Your local heroes"Major Relief Fund directed by local officials The locals are saying they can do it better let them try. It will at least re-direct some of the attention the best case scenario for BP right now.

(6.) Sacrificial lambs" Show some sacrifice So far, the sacrifice that BP gets credit for are the comments from Mr. Hayward and a fund that was set up after meeting with the President. Appearances matter. Put A LOT of money into local nonprofits now. Reduce headcount and replace with affected locals. Invest in these communities for things having nothing to do with the environment.

(7.) No good deed" Non Profit Support When you input the term "BP charity" or "BP nonprofit" into Google News, very little comes up. Not good.

(8.) Retrain or repurpose" Retraining Stations - There are now entire industries that may no longer exist. Set up retraining stations to work in oil and gas exploration and give those displaced apprenticeships and permanent jobs; Start the retraining now

(9.) Fish & Fowl Friendly" ASPCA, etc. Give EVERY major animal rights and environmental organization you can nonprofit funding, fly them down, and get them on the ground on your dime to help. As of yesterday some animal rights groups have begun to file suit this could have been avoided.

(10.) Accept Blame Direct any and all blame inward. Someone internally needs to comment on how BP handled this from the jump taking the heat. Americans are very forgiving, but only if given the opportunity.

(11.)Message Discipline The CEO was photographed, days after being ripped for his testimony on the Hill, watching a prestigious yacht race. After being criticized for his handling of the entire disaster and the perception of a lack of caring for those affected. He may very well have deserved a break, but there should have been some thought put into taking the break publicly, at a prestigious sporting event. Everything sends a message, and this sent a big one.

(12.) Pipeline Meltdown - Focus on the hole in the pipe, not in your communications Another recent communications disaster resulted when BP decided it was a good idea to tell everyone that the company is going to use profits from any recovered oil to help the ecosystem that is now in chaos. Profits; repeat Lesson 1 Stop Talking!

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Matt's specialties include communication training, message development and training.

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