May 5, 2010


Okay, BP says that they are “absolutely responsible” for cleaning up their mess (in hearings today, they said they would pay all the “legitimate claims,” whatever that means), then they start circulating settlement agreements to impacted citizens, asking them to give up the rights to sue in exchange for payments of up to $5,000. Fortunately, the Alabama Attorney General, who is prohibited from giving legal advice to private citizens, suggested that “people need to proceed with caution and understand the ramifications before signing something like that.”

How about this… By  Sunday, BP aimed to sign up 500 fishing boats in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to deploy boom. BP had distributed a contract to fishermen it was hiring that waived their right to sue BP and required confidentiality and other items, sparking protests in Louisiana and elsewhere.

What a mess, figuratively and literally. BP is a poster child of exactly what not to do when it comes to crisis management, which by the way is all about planning…hello??

Where are their daily press briefings and updates? Where is their consistent messaging? I completely agree with Harlan Loeb, the director of crisis and issues management at Edelman PR, about the response. Loeb commented, “This kind of event should clearly have been contemplated in their crisis simulations… BP is an enormous actor in offshore drilling and exploration and the fact that this kind of event took place, while tragic and horrible, should not leave BP looking totally unprepared.” Here is more on the crisis management from Business Insider.

Then we have the completely clueless executives from Wall Street and Goldman Sachs, as outlined in yesterday’s Huffington Post, where it talked about “two recent leaked memos from Wall Street that show the values issue in a different way.” In anemail circulating the press today an anonymous author (who is clearly a trader, not a banker) flames at the middle class about how his job is to make money, and if he doesn’t make money no one else will make money: ‘We are wall Street… we are smarter and more vicious than [dinosaurs].’
The second memo is authored by an economist at J.P. Morgan who rants at “ignorant” senators, and about the need for “the grown ups to step in.” J.P. Morgan of course apologized for this one — how could they not — but the sheer fact that a senior member of management wrote a memo like this is an issue.

We are not only talking about common sense, we are talking about basic manners and a sense of entitlement from these executives..and this is absolutely frightening.