I really enjoyed listening to this Guardian podcast on ‘reasons to be cheerful’ despite the glum economic environment. A key topic was Tony Hayward’s departure from BP, and with it, the end of some truly lamentable public statements. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll know that Mr. Hayward plus the word ‘gaffe’ have gone hand-in-hand since the explosion at the Macondo oil well that triggered this human and environmental tragedy.
What I found interesting was one of the podcaster’s comments which suggested that Hayward’s many PR failures (the key reason he’s going) may have seriously overshadowed fundamentally ‘OK’ managerial decisions he made during the crisis. There are two different but related themes at work here: ‘good’ PR can define leaders. In the case of Hayward and his predecessor, ‘bad’ PR also has the ability to also take them down. Secondly, I personally don’t believe PR is enough to paper over, or indeed, obscure (business, ethical, environmental) cracks of as profound a nature as those which led to the Gulf oil spill. Which also raises a third question: what is your best asset when fighting a crisis of BP-sized proportions?
The incoming CEO, an American, will have a major job on his hands in helping repair the ocean-sized reputational damage to BP. Let’s hope he and his advisors understand that good communications, as part of a bigger whole that includes accountability and responsible action, are not mutually exclusive.
Following a competitive, four-way pitch, Firefly Communications has secured a strategic brief to strengthen CEDR’s reputation by raising awareness for the expanse of the its services and capabilities. These include expert mediation in personal and commercial disputes; conflict management in the workplace; advanced negotiation skills; and how to use structured dialogue in a variety of conflict scenarios.
CEDR is an internationally recognised authority on alternative dispute resolution methods, training and accreditation, with a global remit to establish mediation as one of the most effective tools for reducing the high cost of conflict in business. The organisation, the largest of its kind in Europe, confidentially mediates many high-level business disputes and consults with high-level institutions and NGOs, such as the World Bank.
The Firefly-led campaign, which commences in September, will incorporate PR as well as digital communications elements. Its aim is to achieve greater understanding of mediation (and related disciplines) and its role in global business, as well as CEDR’s unique profile as both a charitable and commercial organisation.
“We were impressed with the level of thought, creativity and insight applied to Firefly’s proposal, and also saw great potential with the overarching theme the team proposed, which we plan to leverage across PR and marketing,” said Andy Rogers, communications manager, CEDR UK.
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