Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BP puts the PU in PR

     Faithful followers of SteveBauerMedia know that I've already taken my shots at British Petroleum- following last summer's Gulf Oil spill disaster.  And by "disaster" I'm talking about the odd comments that keep spilling from the mouths of BP's executives.  For those who were on a different planet at the time,  let's review.

     April 20,2010 Deepwater Horizon explodes in Gulf of Mexico: killing 11 workers.

     May 18, BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward: "I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest." Most people considered this a "modest" understatement- especially since the oil continued to flow for months and months.

     June 2, Tony Hayward: "I'd like my life back."  A lot of people were offended- especially the families of the 11 workers who died.

     June 8, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles says the spill "should be down to a relative trickle by Monday or Tuesday."  Technically correct.  Suttles apparently did not say which Monday or Tuesday.

     June 16, BP board Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg says he feels badly for the "small people" affected by the spill.  Many "small" people are not amused.

     BP downplayed the effects of that massive oil- and BP's role in the disaster.  To repair its image the company spent $50 million on damage control- namely a TV ad campaign that promised to help victims. Here's a link to one of those commercials:
BP Commercial: We'll "Make Things Right"

     As you know, BP set up a $20 billion compensation fund for those who lost money because of the spill.  To date, BP has paid out more than $3 billion to thousands of people.  As I understand it, the $3 billion was doled out as PARTIAL payments for claims.  So a lot of people want to know when they're getting FINAL settlement checks.

     So today.... On the front page of my local paper is this headline: "BP has settled 1 of 91,000 claims"  Those 91,000 people and businesses have filed for FINAL settlements.  But it seems none of them has gotten a FINAL check.

    It gets better. The story says the one claim that WAS paid was $10 million dollars- to a BP business partner.  Citing confidentiality, BP won't identify its business partner but acknowledges it lobbied for the $10 million settlement.  A BP spokesperson calls it "a unique situation".  Let's just say that I call it a PR blunder.

     The Associated Press quotes a Louisiana fisherman as saying the $10 million dollar settlement, "makes me sick".  That fisherman claims he hasn't received a dime for $140,000 in lost earnings.  The Mayor of Orange Beach, Alabama says , "It stinks".

And some people think that last comment could also be directed at BP's PR staff.

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