A few months ago I was in New York City with a few buddies. On our last day in town we decided to take a “Pizza Tour” of some of the oldest and best-known pizzarias in the city. Scott, the tour guide, owner and expert of everything pizza taught us the intricacies of the differing ovens, techniques, water, dough and cheeses. He showed us there are no two pizzas alike.
Being in Italy, where there is a pizza place literally on every corner, got me thinking. Pizza and public relations are not all that different. In almost two weeks in this country, I have yet to taste two pizzas that are even remotely the same. The slice I had in Venice is completely different from the ones I had in Bologna, Rome, and Milan or the one I just had for lunch. The same can be said for public relations.
Public relations across Europe and around the world is like pizza. There is no one size fits all model. Public relations in the UK looks entirely different from public relations in Italy or France. The people, cultures and language are all different. Just like pizza, PR is unique to specific regions and countries and these differences must be accounted for when producing a campaign for a product or large corporation.
The ingredients going into the campaign are not always the same. Public relations professionals all have different techniques and approaches. Some of these methods are more effective then others. That being said, just because pizza is different doesn’t make it bad and the same is true for a diverse set of public relation practices.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Rather then learn from Exxon’s mistakes 21 years ago, BP has failed to heed the warnings of George Santayana. Anne Mulkern’s piece in the New York Times from Thursday highlights the similarities of the two disasters. While initially appearing competent in their crises communications and public relations approach, BP’s failure has reached epic proportions.
BP CEO Tony Hayward is the modern day Joseph Hazelwood. He has become the face of this disaster. Hazelwood was later exonerated, but Hayward’s missteps and errors have become too numerous and too egregious to count.
Perhaps its time for Hayward to get “Fritzed” as in Fritz Henderson, former CEO of GM who was forced to resign after the automaker filed for bankruptcy. BP is operating under a veil of secrecy, misinformation, misdirection and avoidance that has unquestionably ruined the brand for the foreseeable future. When someone fails, at any level, his or her job is terminated. What benefit does the company have to continue with leadership that was 1) negligent to anticipate a disaster of this magnitude, 2) failed to have a contingency plan in place, 3) lied to the American public, 4) minimized the impact and size of the spill and 5) has no immediate plan to stifle the outpouring of oil into the gulf? And these are just a few of BP’s problems.
As a native Floridian (albeit the east coast of the state), I am outraged at the total lack of respect that BP and their CEO have shown those who will shoulder the burden of this spill in the years to come.
How can BP turn the tide? They can start with taking a miniscule cut of their over $240 billion in revenue from 2009 and prematurely help make those already in dire straits financially secure. BP can pull all 92,000 of their worldwide employees from their current positions and send them to the shores of the Gulf to assist in the massive cleanup. Its not as if they are hurting for cash. Perhaps Hayward and his fellow multi-million dollar executives at BP can offer up some of their obscene salaries and time to the clean up. His time would be better served helping save the local wildlife and ecosystem then going on the “Today” show and saying “there’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.”
The last 6 days in Bologna have been the longest stretch in close to 6 years that I have not had access to a fully functional mobile phone.
My Motorola Droid sits in my front right pocket, but without an international calling or data plan, it has been rendered an alarm clock and occasional game console.
The most immediate side effect of not having a mobile phone has been the difficulty of coordinating social activities; meeting up with friends now requires advanced decision making and is complicated by any late changes in schedule or location.
With the growing ubiquity of mobile technologies across the globe, my experiences are a small glimpse into how mobile phones have created new opportunities for group coordination.
Not having a mobile phone in Italy has served as a visceral reminder of the full potentiality of mobile technologies in coordinating groups of people.
Whether helping organizations respond to a natural disaster or helping study abroad students coordinate dinner plans in Bologna, mobile technologies have created a vibrant space where increasingly sophisticated human behaviors can develop.