The very fact that, in the wake of this huge disaster in the Gulf, there is even discussion about BP cleaning up its image boggles the mind. It's ludicrous, yet both the WSJ and AdAge have both addressed the issue.
For example, this excerpt from the WSJ:
Early indications suggest the ad isn't hitting the mark with consumers and crisis experts. "The ad failed to resonate in a meaningful way," said Ju Young Lee, co-founder and chief scientist of Ace Metrix, a Los Angeles research firm that polled consumers on their reaction to it. "In a nut shell," she added, "what consumers are saying is that they have been waiting for BP to say something and, after hearing it, they say they didn't learn anything new."
What? Really? Time is actually being devoted to research on how well Tony Hayward's apology resonated with consumers. You've got to be kidding me!
Listen, marketing research firms and pollsters, the only way BP salvages its image is by stopping the leak, and taking full responsibility for cleaning up the marshes, the beaches and the Gulf itself. And it appears they are shouldering such responsibility.
I'm not suggesting BP shouldn't be communicating, just that any talk of restoring their image shouldn't even be a consideration at this point. BP's actions will speak much more loudly than their words.
The best thing BP can do for itself now insofar as online communication is concerned is to do what they've done with the Gulf of Mexico response site, Deepwater Horizon response site and accompaning Facebook Page, and BP America's Twitter account. Provide a constant stream of factually-based information with no spin whatsoever.
It's worth reading what Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff has to say in a blog post at Adage. Here's the money quote: "BP's first job is to fix the spill. Any other activity now is pointless and won't help."
So, enough with the talk of repairing BP's image with the public. Concentrate on stopping the leak, cleaning up the Gulf and providing restitution to those whose financial futures have been jeopardized by this event.