BP has been making a major public relations push over the past few weeks to burnish its image in the wake of the massive devastation it has caused in the Gulf. The company began buying oil-related search terms to make its official site show up first in search engines, and it spent $50 million on radio, TV, and print ads featuring CEO Tony Hayward pledging to "do everything we can so this never happens again."
Now, AdWeek reports that BP has launched an “aggressive” social media campaign that includes Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. The sophisticated campaign, produced with PR firm Ogilvy & Mather, “would make most social media strategists proud,” but BP seems uninterested in the social aspect of social media. On Facebook, the company only accepts comments from people who "like" BP, while comments are disabled completely on the company’s YouTube channel:
A BP spokesperson said of the outreach on social venues: “It’s an additional communication tool [along with] the regular media. They appeal to a slightly different audience. They’re more direct than other channels." [...]
One thing BP isn’t really sharing is feedback. It turned off comments on its YouTube channel. Its Facebook page is open to comments of those that "like" BP America, and has an extensive commenting policy that warns any "ad hominem attacks" will be removed. While the page still contains criticisms, there are also some supporters.
It’s ironic that BP would disable feedback for its social media campaign, considering that the company is actively soliciting ideas from the public on how to stop the gusher in the Gulf. BP has received “thousands” of ideas, but it quickly became apparent that the company was ignoring the suggestions and that the effort was largely a PR stunt. Moreover, BP has been widely criticized for spending millions on advertising to rehabilitate its image while it should be spending that money to rehabilitate the Gulf.