The recent pseudo-unveiling of the man behind @BPGlobalPR has the PR industry all a-Twitter with the “who/what/where/when/why and how” of the situation at hand and, more importantly, its implications on brand/reputation management during times of crisis.
The owner of the Twitter handle in question, who used the alias “Leroy Stick” to pen blog post on Street Giant last week, launched his satirical tweetstream in the weeks following the oil rig explosion that prompted the worst oil spill in U.S. history. As his profile gained followers (as of this writing, the audience is in excess of 134,000), the media took notice-after all, his highly critical, sardonic tone all but guaranteed the source of the tweets was not an official BP spokesperson (see image below).
With last week’s blog post, Mr. Stick shed some light on his motive for becoming a sharp-tongued brand imposter:
“I started @BPGlobalPR, because the oil spill had been going on for almost a month and all BP had to offer were bullshit PR statements. No solutions, no urgency, no sincerity, no nothing. That’s why I decided to relate to the public for them. I started off just making jokes at their expense with a few friends, but now it has turned into something of a movement.”
He then shifted his vitriol from BP to PR professionals at large, writing:
“I’ve read a bunch of articles and blogs about this whole situation by publicists and marketing folk wondering what BP should do to save their brand from @BPGlobalPR. First of all, who cares? Second of all, what kind of business are you in? I’m trashing a company that is literally trashing the ocean, and these idiots are trying to figure out how to protect that company? One pickledick actually suggested that BP approach me and try to incorporate me into their actual PR outreach. That has got to be the dumbest, most head-up-the-ass solution anyone could possibly offer.”
His sophomoric language aside, he actually raises some interesting questions about the role PR plays in the modern communications environment. If brands’ identities are actually owned and defined by individuals’ own interpretations of them (and Mr. Stick suggests they are), then is there really anything PR/communications can do during a crisis like BP’s? If you agree with Stick, the answer is “no.” So, what do you think? Here’s a final thought from Mr. @BPGlobalPR to consider while you decide:
“The point is, FORGET YOUR BRAND. You don’t own it because it is literally nothing. You can spend all sorts of time and money trying to manufacture public opinion, but ultimately, that’s up to the public, now isn’t it?”