Tuesday, 17 January 2012

HOW TO GIVE A BETTER SPEECH THAN OBAMA and change your world - (Obama and the BP crisis) Darren Kelly, Kellcomm, Blog - Day 57


When a company faces an unexpected crisis, it is only natural for its leader to feel surprise and a loss of control. Their focus must switch from normal strategy to repair and redevelopment. Many leaders make the mistake of offering a response that deals only with the short term pressure they are under. Great leaders take the longer view, and I will discuss one such example tomorrow.

Today, I would like to talk about how a leader’s words can magnify a crisis and cause more pain for its victims. In 2010, when former BP leader Tony Hayward paraphrased Winston Churchill in his response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the world stopped in shock. The man known as the ‘Bumbler from BP‘ said, "We are going to defend the beaches. We will fix this." However, Hayward failed to convince anyone that he possessed the authenticity of Churchill.

It seems that Hayward did not understand the gravity of the situation, and how his self-centred conversations with the media were reducing confidence in BP, and further tainting its reputation and finances. No one expected him to turn into Stallone or Schwarzenegger and save the day, but he owed the victims and their families so much more. He said, “There's no one who wants this over more than I do. I'd like my life back.” Hayward really missed the point when he said he should have gone to drama school. While I agree that media training is essential, you should not need an acting lesson to put human concerns above profits. I find it hard to believe that a leader of a company as big as BP did not practice for any possible crisis. JFK called CBS television in 1952, and he asked them for media training. That was eight years before he ran for President.

Every time Hayward spoke; he made the situation more painful for everyone. When he said, “The Air France airplane that fell out of the sky off of Brazil did not stop the aviation industry," he put profit over people again.” No one was surprised when Barack Obama said, "He wouldn't be working for me after any of those statements." The people at BP decided Obama was right.

If you decide to take any media training, please feel free to call me.

Tomorrow, I will discuss why Hayward and the team at BP should have studied Johnson and Johnson’s response to the Tylenol recall of 1982.

Take care,


PS: 'HOW TO GIVE A BETTER SPEECH THAN OBAMA and change your world' - is available on iTunes and Amazon NOW!
Audio Version only.
Text version out January 31st.

Kellcomm, Princes Exchange,Princes Square,Leeds,LS1 4HY, United Kingdom

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