Short takes: Crisis lessons. current events

Why won’t he go away? BP lately has been doing many of the right things to restore its reputation in the wake of the oil leak from hell: quietly participating in Gulf restoration projects, maintaining admirable transparency with effective use of social media, and largely refraining from feeling sorry for itself in public. It will be a long, long road back. But at some point, maybe as soon as next year, BP may be able to turn the corner where there is more attention on what it is doing right then all the harm the company has caused. In the mean time, BP just has to do what’s right and continue taking its lumps without complaint.

But that’s exactly what BP’s former CEO is NOT doing. Disgraced CEO Tony Hayward is back in the news in way of a BBC interview widely picked up in the states, wistfully remembering incredible moments of feeling sorry for himself, including when he was quoted wishing he could “have my life back.” Note to Tony: you aren’t helping! You were fortunate to be demoted to a meaningless job rather than being booted all together. Your main responsibility now is to stay quiet! (and, no, I’m not just upset because Hayward described the media onslaught during BP’s crisis as a “feeding frenzy.”) 

Why won’t he go away II: Promoting a book of his memoirs, President George W. Bush has reappeared in the news for the first time since the iinauguration of Barack Obama. The unpopular former President has every right, of course, to emerge to tell his side of things, but don’t you think the Republican party is just glad he waited until after the elections to launch the book tour? 

How to get some good news stories out during a crisis (continued from two previous posts): The continuing plight of the Carnival cruise ship adrift off the Pacific coast of Mexico showcases mostly effective crisis management.  The blizzard of coverage is a cruise company’s worst nightmare, but Carnival is doing the right things to contain the damage: Steps taken right away to rescue the ship and ensure passengers are not in any danger; passengers immediately promised a full refund plus free cruise in the future; passengers kept as comfortable as possible; the CEO takes responsibility and is accessible to media.

As the ship is brought close enough to shore for passengers to use their cell phones, media inevitably feature harrowing tales of discomfort. Plenty of play especially to the tons of Spam inexplicably helicoptered in, along with Poptarts and other non-perishables. (Spam? Really?) But there has also been plenty of coverage on favorable comments passengers are making about the accommodating crew doing all they can and passengers intent of making the best of the situation.

- Jon Harmon

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