The metaphysical principle of Occam’s razor tells us that the simplest solution is usually the best solution, but it fails to acknowledge one key point: all too often, the simplest solution is also the easiest one to overlook.
This is what came to mind when we heard BP’s latest crisis communications tactic: buying the top search results for “oil spill” on Google and Yahoo, and then linking to its “Gulf of Mexico response” Web page.
Obviously this approach isn’t going to do anything in the way of resurrecting its damned brand and reputation, nor does it intend to. What it does achieve, however, is getting BP’s own messages (as misinformed or hopeless as they may be) to appear alongside the unbranded information currently ranking in the top search results-a tactic that’s so obvious, it’s a wonder that more brands-in-crisis don’t do it.
Granted, managing crisis communications is a moot point when the crisis in question is of this magnitude (as Mr. Stick-aka @BPGlobalPR-so wisely suggested, just focus on fixing the problem, because energy spent on anything else is just wasted). But we think it’s a smart, simple tactic that should be part of every brand’s crisis management toolkit, as it’s the best-and often the only-way to have your message heard when “it” hits the proverbial fan. (Of course, the best crisis plan is actually an issues management/risk mitigation plan, which serves to proactively identify and triage issues before they escalate to full-blown crises.)
What about you? Do you have any examples of companies buying search terms to help manage their messaging in the midst of a crisis? We’d love to hear them!