The Wall Street Journal editorial page is a tough get so kudos are in order to Dan McGinn of TMG Strategies for co-authoring a piece on BP's tough road in reputation revival in today's edition. As of this morning, it looks like BP has finally capped the well so the news will naturally shift even more to litigation, costs, Congressional hearings and the like.
I do wish there was more substance or controversial advice in the article, as most of the points don't really represent "new rules" as the authors suggest but rather what great companies have done forever, i.e. question their business practices, prepare for problems, tell the truth, plan ahead, etc.
There is a good point about the value of advertising - the authors remind us that a decade worth of advertising spend blew with the rig in the Gulf - as well as why "spin" is a bad metaphor for PR practice.
Consider oil company BP, which is now watching the halo created by a decade of smart advertising vanish as a mammoth oil slick makes its way across the Gulf of Mexico. BP's "Beyond Petroleum" campaign had positioned the company on the green side of energy development. But its sunken drilling platform—and the resulting environmental catastrophe—has sent it firmly back into dirty carbon company territory.
Maybe that is the lesson of where the company really went wrong.
BP's safety record has been questionable for a while and chasing trendy slogans aping the language of environmentalists who act as though they resent the blessings of modern life was a poor use of corporate resources.
Both the company's reputation and the environment would have been better off if BP's leaders focused on making it the best oil company it could be than trying to be a "green" company.