David & Goliath in the realm of communications

May 25, 2010

Here’s one of the basic rules of PR:

“If you don’t communicate, someone else will do it for you.”

We all know what this means. Proactive communications is the key to success.

What it doesn’t mean, on the other hand, is that if do you communicate, someone else won’t still do it for you. And this is especially true in the age of social media.

A recent example.

BP (British Petroleum) had a major oil spill accident in the Gulf of Mexico on the 20th April 2010. Pictures say more than words. A true crisis — for both the company and the environment.

And BP did communicate. They sent out press releases, put up banners on their front page, did a specific landing page for the oil spill and tweeted like hell (see below).

So, with all this proactive communications effort, you’d figure they’d have the upper hand, right? Think again.

Despite the timely, open, multichannel communications by BP, there are still others doing the talking for them. See below the tweets by “BP Public Relations”.

BP official account has been up for about a year. It has nearly 5000 followers.

BP fake account has been up for about a week. It has over 25 000 nearly 40 000 followers.

The numbers speak for themselves. It seems that some amateur with an eye for communication beat BP hands down.

Does this mean it’s no use trying to communicate? Hell no.

It means you should realize that you don’t control the conversation whatever efforts you might pull. Let go – embrace the chaos.


Some say conversation is the new king. I’d say content still rules the kingdom. And conversation serves it well.

So communicate. Make it relevant. Make it interesting.

Just don’t expect the to be the only one doing it.


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