Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BP's Twitter Imposter

Say what you will about British Petroleum (BP) but they seem to have a sense of humor.

Within the past week, someone has hijacked the company's brand on Twitter, @bpglobalpr and in a matter of days has more followers than BP's own Twitter account @BP America.

Many companies, hit by a fake Twitterer, complain and insist the look-alike account be removed. BP spokesman Toby Odone told Ad Age, "People are frustrated at what's happening, as are we, and that's just their way of expressing it."

The site is somewhere between a parody and down-right comedy, but the frightening part is some people "get it" and are having fun with it, and some take it seriously and are responding accordingly.

The lesson for crisis communicators -- sometimes you do less harm by not making a big deal out of a critic's efforts.

An example of the fun the writer is having at BP's expense: "Proud to announce that BP will be sponsoring the New Orleans Blues Festival this summer w/ special tribute to Muddy Waters. #bpcares"

And another: "I'm sorry, are people mad at us for drilling in the ocean?!? Maybe God shouldn't have put oil there in the first place. DUH. #bpcares"

Dan Hicks, ICM Senior Consultant and author of http://crisisexperts.blogspot.com/ continues to praise BP's communication strategy and its execution. I have been impressed with their websites and how often they have made senior executives available to the media.

I still believe they could improve their execution of message development and delivery, but as Dan said in his most recent blog post, a company has to do the "right thing" and then they can talk about it. Stopping the spill and expediting the clean-up is job one, right now.

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