Monday, 28 June 2010

BP boss' big blunder

BP chief Tony Hayward

BP chief executive Tony Hayward has been criticised heavily recently following a number of public relations gaffes that have surely added to his already tarnished reputation.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is now thought to be the largest offshore spill in American history with tens of millions of gallons spilled, and it's still ongoing.

The spill stems from a sea floor 'oil gusher', which occured following a series of explosions on the Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit on April 20th. The accident killed 11 workers and injured 17.

BP chief executive Tony Hayward has done nothing to stem the flow of negativity surrounding this disaster, which has been dubbed by some as 'oilblivion'.

Here are just some of Tony's biggest slip-ups:

  • May 14 - in an interview with the Guardian, Hayward insisted that the 5,000 barrels of oil per day and the estimated 400,000 gallons of dispersant BP are pumping into the waters should be put into context. "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of [sic] oil and dispersant we are putting in is tiny in relation to the total water volume", he said.
  • May 30 - Hayward was asked on camera what he would like to say to people in Louisiana, where the oil from the rig had begun to reach the state's south-eastern marshses. Hayward responded: "The first thing to say is, I'm sorry. We're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused their lives. There's no-one that wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back." The statement caused particular upset given that 11 people died in the explosion which caused the spill.
  • June 3 - Hayward was criticised by president Obama after BP broadcast a TV advertisement apologising to those affected by the spill, pledging to clean up every drop of oil and "restore the shoreline to its original state". BP spent $50 million on the campaign.
  • June 19 - Hayward was criticised again after he was spotted taking part in the JP Morgan Asset Management round the island race on the Isle of Wight. Hayward took part in the race in his personal £182,000 racing yacht, 'Bob' with his son. While BP spokesman Robert Wine defended Hayward, saying it was his first day off since the spill, Greenpeace activists said the trip was "rubbing salt into the wounds" of those who'd been affected by the spill.
White house chief of staff Rahm Emanuel summed it all up nicely: "[the boating incident has] just been part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes. To quote Tony Hayward, he's got his life back. I think we can all conclude that Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting."

I do hope Mr Emanuel is right... although we at Uniquethinking will not be quaking in our PR boots should Hayward choose to leave BP!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Fergie-gate

Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson on Oprah Winfrey's US chat show


Well last week was quite a week for our Duchess of York, as Sarah Ferguson put her foot in it.

The Duchess came under fire after being secretly filmed offering access to ex-husband Prince Andrew for a fee of £500,000 and an instant cash payment of $40,000 by Mazher Mahmood, the News of the World’s so called ‘fake sheikh’.

She has since apologised, but despite her many charity ventures and her books for children series, she never seems to really be in public favour. So what can she do next to regain some dignity?

With the news that she’s due to appear on Oprah in the US going down like a ton of bricks, the Uniquethinking team would suggest this is not the best move.

Fergie is set to appear on Oprah Winfrey’s US chat show today to make a formal, public apology to her American fans, who evidently outweigh those she has left in the UK. Fergie has always pledged her allegiance to the US and its people, recently saying:
“I love American people… I don’t have a house, but I live here. I am the number one fan, I love Americans.”

The next big ‘what not to do’ would be to joke about the embarrassing incident. Strike two for Fergie then, as during a discussion panel at Book Expo America in New York she said:

“I should take a leaf from some of my books like ‘Ashley Learns about Strangers’ and ‘Matthew and the Bullies’.”

It’s statements such as these that prompt the negative media coverage which has haunted Fergie’s private life, and most certainly prompted the New York Post last week to use the headline ‘Hey Fergie, if we pay you, will you go home?’

Fergie should go into hiding for a while and keep a low profile after making her public apologies and just let the dust settle. However, she seems determined to continue with a string of – potentially damaging – public appearances, which raises the question, who is looking after her PR? Whoever it is needs to step in here before any further damage is done.

What about spending some more time with daughters Beatrice and Eugenie? With Eugenie at Newcastle University now they could even go for a spot of lunch at Blackfriars restaurant!