Can BP Tweet Its Way To A Better Image? BP has been tapping into social media sites as part of its PR strategy. But the company's critics have been organizing online too. Welcome to Crisis Management 2.0.
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Can BP Tweet Its Way To A Better Image?

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Can BP Tweet Its Way To A Better Image?

Can BP Tweet Its Way To A Better Image?

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

NPR's Carolyn Beeler reports on whether or not BP's social media campaign is working.

CAROLYN BEELER: A video on BP's YouTube channel shows a company vice president standing on a sandy beach. Workers in the background clean along the shoreline with shovels and garbage bags.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

U: We have 25,000 people; they're working in five different states. And all of this has happened over eight weeks.

BEELER: Crisis-management expert Chris Lehane says BP has been good about putting information where people can get it whenever they want.

NORRIS: I think they did a very good job identifying the communication outlets that exist in the new digital world. But I think they have fallen into the age-old, crisis 101, do-not-do list, which is to rush out information which has turned out not to be accurate.

BEELER: Geoff Livingston runs a social media marketing company. He says when he looks at the BP America Facebook page, he sees a company talking at people.

NORRIS: So if we look at BP America's Facebook page - all right, this is an interesting one. So I'm looking at...

BEELER: Livingston says BP is just messaging people. That's fine for an ad campaign. But it doesn't work well on Facebook, where people expect a dialogue.

NORRIS: So when you have a two-way channel like Facebook or Twitter, you're expected to have a conversation. And eventually, when you don't have a conversation with people and you just put out messages and ignore them, people feel like you're not really there.

BEELER: Katie Oliver lives nowhere near the gulf. Still, the Wisconsin resident wants to learn more about the disaster, find ways to help, and express her frustrations. She posted a message on the BP Facebook page, telling the company to pay up, clean up and get out. But she says she's more drawn to sites like the Boycott BP page. The tone is negative on these anti-BP sites, but at least they're telling her something she can do.

NORRIS: People want to be a part of something, and I think that's why the anti ones are going to have more of an effect on people.

BEELER: Carolyn Beeler, NPR News, Washington.

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