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Why I Co-opted BP's Twitter Presence

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Dearest Media,

My name is Leroy Stick and I am the man behind @BPGlobalPR. First, let me begin by explaining my name.

When I was growing up, there was a dog that lived on my block named Leroy.  Leroy was a big dog with a disdain for leashes and a thirst for blood.  He made a habit of running around our block attacking anything he saw, biting my dad and my dogs basically whenever he had the chance.  He chased me a few times, but I always escaped because I was/am an amazing tree climber.

Anyhoos, after Leroy's second or third attack on my dogs, it became clear that the police and Leroy's owner weren't going to do anything to stop him, so my dad took matters into his own hands and came up with a brilliant invention: the Leroy stick.

The Leroy stick was, you guessed it, a stick. My dad carried an axe handle and I carried a plunger handle.  My dad told me two things about carrying the Leroy stick. First, if Leroy came near me or the dogs, I should hit him. Second, if I hit Leroy with my stick, I would not get in trouble. Was it legal? Probably not. Was it right? It sure felt like it. We set the example and soon a lot of our neighbors started carrying Leroy sticks as well. Soon enough, Leroy and his owner saw everyone carrying sticks and Leroy didn't run free anymore.

If you think the point of this story is to beat dogs with sticks, then I'm guessing you probably still think I work for BP as well.

The point of this story is that if someone is terrorizing your neighborhood, sometimes it's alright to grab a stick and take a swing. Social media, and in this particular case Twitter, has given average people like me the ability to use and invent all sorts of brand new sticks.

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.  As I write this, we have 100,000 followers and counting.  People are sharing billboards, music, graphic art, videos and most importantly information.

Why has this caught on?  I think it's because people can smell the bullshit and sometimes laughing at it feels better than getting angry or depressed over it.  At the very least, it's a welcome break from that routine.  The reason @BPGlobalPR continues to grow is because BP continues to spew their bullshit.

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.

Do you want to know what BP should do about me?  Do you want to know what their PR strategy should be?  They should fire everyone in their joke of a PR department, starting with all-star Anne Womack-Kolto and focus on actually fixing the problems at hand.  Honestly, Cheney's publicist?  That's too easy.

BP seems to only care about maintaining their image so they can keep making money, two things we have blatantly avoided.  I don't have an image and I'm not making any money AT ALL for myself.  Every penny we make from the t-shirts goes to the Gulf Restoration Network.  Just a few hours ago, we made our first official $10,000 donation to healthygulf.org from the money we've made selling free "bp cares" t-shirts in one week.

So what is the point of all this?  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?

You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand?  Have a respectable brand.  Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions.  Lead the pack!  Evolve!  Don't send hundreds of temp workers to the gulf to put on a show for the President.  Hire those workers to actually work!  Don't dump toxic dispersant into the ocean just so the surface looks better.  Collect the oil and get it out of the water!  Don't tell your employees that they can't wear respirators while they work because it makes for a bad picture.  Take a picture of those employees working safely to fix the problem.  Lastly, don't keep the press and the people trying to help you away from the disaster, open it up so people can see it and help fix it.  This isn't just your disaster, this is a human tragedy.  Allow us to mourn so that we can stop being angry.

In the meantime, if you are angry, speak up.  Don't let people forget what has happened here.  Don't let the prolonged nature of this tragedy numb you to its severity.  Re-branding doesn't work if we don't let it, so let's hold BP's feet to the fire.  Let's make them own up to and fix their mistakes NOW and most importantly, let's make sure we don't let them do this again.

Right now, PR is all about brand protection.  All I'm suggesting is that we use that energy to work on human progression.  Until then, I guess we've still got jokes.

Love,

Leroy Stick (aka a guy in his boxer shorts)