Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BP Report on Cause of Spill Does Not Difuse Crisis

One of the lessons in PR Lessons from BP, Toyota & Goldman Sachs is to not blame other people or factors.

"There's not a lot of news when the company takes responsibility and moves on," James Donnelly at Ketchum, told the New York Times.

But BP apparently doesn't read this blog or the New York Times.

Today, it issued a report that found several companies at fault in the spill. Among the findings in a BP-sponsored report are some that, as the Times notes, "While it puts some responsibility on BP for errors made — such as misreading pressure data that indicated a blowout was imminent — the report tries to undermine the notion that the company acted with gross negligence."

Because it still blames the leak on the work of other companies, this report is, as the Times understates it, "is unlikely to carry much weight in influencing the Department of Justice, which is considering criminal and civil charges related to the spill."

So why did BP issue the report?

The Times called the report "a public relations exercise."

But I think it won't work. Again, blaming others is another way to avoid responsibility. Doing so dilutes a company's ability to take corrective action to prevent future crises. Not only does blaming others dilute the public's confidence in all the companies involved, it especially dilutes the public's confidence -- hurting the brand value -- of the company doing the blaming.

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