BP Oil Spill: When Crisis Management is Compounded by Social Media

I had the privilege of guest lecturing in Bill Imada’s graduate class at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (my alma mater). The title of the class — JOUR 568– is Critical Thinking and Crisis Management and I was asked to demonstrate the importance of social media in crisis communications and to present a case study. Well it turned out not being so much of a lecture — or even a case study for that matter — as it was a critical review of BP’s [lack of] response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster of April 2010 and the ensuing oil spill that leaked into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly 3 months unchecked.

[slideshare id=7111493&doc=bpoilspill-final-110302000814-phpapp02]

Click through to the videos in the presentation. Especially BP Spills Coffee. Riotous, no? But there’s truth to every bit of the parody. While BP was too focused on its record-breaking earnings and deflecting blame, it needed to address the reality of what was — and is — a very human tragedy in the eyes and on the active social networks of the public. And BP was way too late to that game.

The U.S. government just approved the first permit for deep-water drilling in the gulf since the disaster and there remains no known fix should history repeat itself. But our consumer culture didn’t get to where it is today out of an abundance of caution. This is where crisis management runs counter to traditional public relations. Organizations cannot wait to get involved on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, they must be proactively engaging and listening to their audiences. Sometimes communication is the only viable regulation.

Keeping Track of What we Read in Class

I was looking all over for the syllabus from a course I was fortunate to take in the fall of 2006 at USC, Set-Top Box: Hollywood’s Secret War on Your Living Room. As if it wasn’t enough to meet weekly with Cory Doctorow, the guests he brought in and the material we read were priceless and it has all stuck with me in many ways. Having tracked down the syllabus in an old socialtext wiki I thought I’d reprint it here so I no longer have to dig and dig and dig to refer back to some of the readings. The class blog and my class project are still online.

Continue reading “Keeping Track of What we Read in Class”

Murray Fromson Blogs Again

One of my pet projects over the past few years has been to get Murray Fromson to blog again. I met Murray at USC, he was in his last year teaching journalism and even though I never had a class with him I spent time talking sports, politics, newspapers, Internet, and even broke fast at his place a few Yom Kippur’s ago.

A couple years ago I migrated his blogspot (blogger) blog to wordpress and retrained him for quick and easy posting, but it wasn’t until this week, after he took me to California Wok, that he’s finally kicked his blogging senses back into gear. Apparently he was busy traveling the world and finishing up a book on Lincoln or something. I encourage you to keep up with his posts — they’re great and insightful — and in the near future look for his entries to appear in the Huffington Post.

Check out this colorful intro to Fromson’s well-informed perception of where the Obama campaign stands now, tainted, most naturally, by the general bitterness in the Southern California air surrounding Sam Zell (and company)’s dramatic mismanagement of the LA Times. Then click on and read the rest of the post: Continue reading “Murray Fromson Blogs Again”

It’s Not Me, It’s You

ann coulter speaks at usc annenberg about islamo-fascism or whateverAnn Coulter is disgustingly skinny. So, when I heard her speak last night at USC, I couldn’t help myself but to replace the word “liberal” with “fat people” — at least in my head — the dozens of times she berated the intellectually beefy. Her new book would probably be quite a hoot if only it were titled “If Democrats Fat People Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans.”

Click here to read my account of her “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” presentation complete with photos and video at LAist.

Oh, and happy Leopard Day Mac users!