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If I Was Running BP's Public Relations

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There is all sorts of tried and true PR tactics you can use during a crisis situation and one of the best is keeping the public buried in the details of the process versus the impacts.

The first step is to give the process an impressive sounding name that looks good in headlines. I would suggest something beginning with the word "Operation," followed by an overly aggressive phrase like "top kill" or "junk shot."

Once you think up some good names, you can then start to roll out impressive looking processes (with fancy graphics) and claim that they are going to take care of the problem.

At this point do whatever is necessary to draw attention away from the actual impacts of the crisis.

Next, ensure that these processes sound very technical in nature, using words like "complex" and "cutting edge" and "scientific." Try phrases like "these efforts are being carried out in conjunction with industry experts and governmental authorities" and "this is very complex - and involves several complex procedures coming together."

While the public may not know exactly what all this jargon means it really does sound like everything is under control - it make you look like you know what the heck you are doing.

The final step is to introduce lots of acronyms like "BOP choke" and "the BOP's LMRP" and "response to the MC252 oil well incident in the Gulf of Mexico."

All this has the effect of diverting the story away from the real effects of the disaster that you do not want the media to be reporting and the public to be watching.

This tactic will avoid (hopefully) headlines like, "Thousands of Tiny Dead Fish Washing up on Oil Contaminated Beach" or "The Gulf's silent environmental crisis" or "Gulf Oil Spill: 22-Mile Underwater Plume Approaches Rich Waters, Could Poison Food Chain."

Don't get me wrong here, I'm as addicted as the next person when it comes to watching live underwater oil spill cams to see if BP is successful with their one-two "top kill-junk shot" operation, but it's easy to get sucked into the spin. And have no illusion that in the "situation room" for this devastating oil spill there is as many scientists and engineers as there are spindoctors.

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