I’m multitasking today (isn’t everyone?) so that I can get my work done and watch Tony Hayward squirm in front of Congress. The circles under his eyes are becoming darker and I worry (well, I wonder actually) that he might take a cue from General Patraeus who, earlier this week, fainted during a congressional hearing. The bottom line is this: He’s not really answering the questions and I’ve lost count as to how many times the questioners have referenced BP’s less-than-stellar PR. Yikes! Oh, there’s CNN’s Ali Velshi talking about PR. Unfortunately, this is the kind of stuff that minimizes the good that can come out of PR done well.
What bothers me in particular, however, is the way the phrase “PR” is being thrown around. Plus, all the insults (and please don’t confuse my observations with any defense of BP; I only know what I know from watching television and reading a few different newspapers) being thrown at BP suggest that the PR folks at the company are total and complete idiots. (And maybe they are, but I don’t really think so. Unprepared maybe but not idiots.) Clearly, the company has made several missteps (understatement?) like that pricey television ad with Tony Hayward attempting to eat crow. Did they really think that people wouldn’t get angry over the high cost of the spot? I mean, really.
Plus, you don’t even have to listen that carefully to realize that the company is sending out mixed messages (although calling the people living near the Gulf Coast “little people” sends a fairly clear message…).
Inept? Callous? Forget about the weasel-like response Mr. Hayward is providing today. He’s being accused of stalling, insulting people’s intelligence, and simply not doing what he was asked to do: answer the questions. Just go back over the last several weeks and you’ll see that there doesn’t seem to be an overriding point from BP, which of course is creating more and more ill will.