Sustainability (and such)

PR and BP…sigh

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on June 30, 2010

Lots of PR experts are jostling right now to be relevant about the BP disaster.  (Q: What does BP, Tiger, and Toyota have in common?  A: They’ve ignored the critical steps of crisis communication.)   Tweetdeck is stuffed with advice such as to:  1)  remember immediacy, transparency, and honesty; 2) stop throwing $$ into tradition media  and3) quit stonewalling Anderson Cooper! 

Most agree that we’re missing the truly human side of this amidst critiques of BP as savior and destroyer.  But there are strategies:  Alan Weinkrantz and others would partner with Canon to hand out cameras for documentation, for instance.  And  BP should have set up a Wiki long ago so folks could have a place to harness their energy and good ideas.  (Plus set up the best practice of horizontal communication, giving up that fake pedestal of control and moving into collaboration that might just repair reputation.)

But how can we learn from this tragedy to make sure less voices are silenced and future action comes quicker?   For those of us in education, how might we make this lesson-in-progress relevant to students?  Let’s start NOW with being more open source  about everything from concrete clean-up ideas to broader issues of communication.  Let’s  recraft our syllabi to embed  sustainability and social responsibility.  Who’s up for more relevant case studies and long-lasting projects that go beyond awareness to action?

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