How Not to Leverage Video for PR

As BP tries to plug the oil leaks 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, I’m thinking about those cameras that are trained on the broken pipes and gushing crude—and the millions of people who have viewed the live video feed.  We all know about the increasing use of video as a PR tool, but clearly this isn’t what BP had in mind for successfully leveraging the platform. This has got to be the most significant video in PR history, easily eclipsing  “United Breaks Guitars” and the “Domino’s Pizza” video in the stakes involved. Here’s to hope that either BP or the U.S. government can turn off the flow—and then the cameras—as soon as possible.

–Scott Van Camp

  • Clay

    Without a doubt, everyone’s watching it and I dare say it is not making BP look all that good.

    The flip side – and I say this as a writer and someone who came up through print journalism – sometimes it is just best to turn the camera on and get out of the way. I would find it difficult to tell a story more powerful than the simple video images of that oil spewing from the pipe.

  • M. E. Marr

    The title of this piece looked practical and useful as a PR Practice Tip . . . until I saw that it’s about the BP Oil DISASTER. (As Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! noted: Not ‘spill’ and Not ‘leak’ . . . the proper semantics here are OIL VOLCANO or OIL DISASTER.)

    BP isn’t leveraging ANYTHING here. Nor is the company in any position to “release” or “leverage” this video.

    Congressman Edward Markey, of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy oversight committee, demanded the live video feed. No one else can get down a mile underwater to take their own video. And Congressman Markey very rightly refused any blather from BP that video of this environmental and economic disaster is “proprietary” or “Not For Public Release.”

    The only concession Markey made was that BP did not have to post the video feed on a publicly accessible channel. It’s being fed on secure links to Markey’s system; the Congressman is mirroring or re-transferring the feed off secure government servers.

    Sorry, but I was disappointed that PR News Blog would assume that even a company as incompetent and malfeasant as BP — have you tracked the long trail of safety violations, employee deaths and whistleblowers who have come into the light?? — that even BP would try to PR “leverage” an oil explosion video. It was pushed; thank goodness.