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5 PR Nightmares That Were Handled Better Than The BP Oil Spill (PHOTOS)

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By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP: BP is being vilified from the Louisiana marshlands to the White House as its leaking oil well pollutes the Gulf Coast, raising doubts about whether the company can survive the backlash.

"There are no magic bullets for something like this," said Tony Jaques, a crisis management consultant in Australia.

Past corporate crises teach us that it might be too late for BP to recover from the worst oil spill in U.S. history after initially playing down the severity of it. But history also indicates that the company could still bounce back if CEO Tony Hayward and his management team do the right things. Most companies contaminated by crisis recover, even if the stigma sticks.

"Strong leadership will survive any crisis," said public relations executive Richard Levick.

Several high-profile corporate crises in the past 30 years offer insights into what BP PLC should have done from the start - and might still do.

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