The Playbook: Inside BP’s PR secrets

As BP executives repeat amorphous phrases like “all legitimate claims” and “make things right”, Gulf Coast residents are becoming increasingly suspicious.

First obtained by through an “insider”, a 582-page report details how BP would handle an oil disaster similar to the one we are now experiencing.

From BP’s Regional Oil Spill Response Plan for the Gulf of Mexico, updated on June 30, 2009:

A. Public Statements …

As the following information becomes available, press statements will:

1) Note that containment and cleanup experts are on/being called to the scene to supervise/participate in the operation.

2) Give the type of product spilled – light or heavy oil? Other?

3) Report whether the spill has been contained, controlled.

4) Give the estimated size of the spill – quantity and area affected as known at that time.

5) Tell how spill is moving, and what factors can affect its movement, such as wind, current and tides.

6) Describe special efforts taken to protect members of the community, property and wildlife.

No statement shall be made containing any of the following:

a) Speculations concerning liability for the spill or its legal consequences.

b) Speculations regarding the cause of the spill. An extended inquiry may be needed to determine the actual cause, and legal liability could be affected by what is said.

c) Estimates of damage and/ or value expressed in dollars, production statistics, sales volume, or insurance coverage.

d) Estimates of how long cleanup will take or cleanup costs.

e) Promises that property, ecology, or anything else will be restored to normal.

If incorrect statements or unfounded speculations are published, the following steps are suggested:

1) Provide the source with correct information. If it is determined an appropriate audience, arrange for representatives to fly over the spill, or otherwise visit it, to confirm company estimates as to size, damage and action.

2) Avoid direct rebuttal or erroneous statements. Ask for amendments to incorrect details.

3) Do not rebut statements by scientists unless you use a comparable scientific source to back up any statement you make.

[emphasis added]

After examining BP’s recent statements, appears the tactics from this public relations guide are in use.

Watch BP latest video “A message from Tony Hayward”

Review BP’s authorized twitter page

Review the 582-page BP Oil Spill Response Plan

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